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This Thai Eggplant Stir Fry is a delicious healthy meal featuring succulent eggplant, your choice of protein, Thai basil, and fresh veggies in a flavorful Thai stir-fry sauce. Vegan-adaptable!
What is Thai Eggplant?
Thai Eggplant is a savory, velvety stir-fry dish with a touch of spiciness from fresh chilis used to add extra heat to the stir fry. The spiciness is entirely optional! The eggplant is sliced into long thin pieces and then stir-fried with a generous amount of garlic, oyster sauce, soybean paste, soy sauce, seasoned with sugar, chilis, and of course, the fragrant Thai basil bringing the dish together.
Protein and vegetable options are flexible, making this dish easy to adapt using your favorite ingredients.
Ingredients in Eggplant with Thai basil
- Eggplants. Use Japanese or Chinese eggplants if you have them. Globe eggplants can be substituted. Check your local farmer’s markets for other varieties.
- Thai Basil. Thai basil is a must for a strong basil flavor to finish the stir fry. Substitute Italian basil.
- Protein. Substitute any protein of your choice! Ground-up tofu, crispy tofu, ground meat, and shrimp work great for this recipe.
- Garlic. Chop garlic small but not minced to keep it from browning too quickly
- Chilis. Chilis are optional. Adapt as needed. For extra spice, add jalapeños, serrano, or Thai chilis.
- Vegetables. These are great options to add to the stir fry. Bell peppers, snap or sweet pea pods, onion, broccolini, baby corn, green beans, or carrots.
- Soybean paste. This adds a deep layer of salty umami flavors to the stir fry. Sub miso paste.
- Oyster sauce. This is where the rich, velvety taste comes from. Sub vegan oyster sauce .
- Soy sauce. Use any soy sauce available. Season with more towards the end if necessary.
- Rice wine vinegar. Apple Cider vinegar, lime, or lemon juice work great too.
- Sugar. Any sweeteners work for this recipe. White, brown, coconut sugar or honey are all great!
How to make Thai Eggplant
Step one: Prep the Egglant.
Cut the eggplant into long, thin pieces about 1-2 inches long, 1/2 inch thick. Soak in a bowl of water for 15-20 minutes with a teaspoon of salt to keep the eggplant from browning and tasting bitter. Set aside.
Step two: Stir-fry Sauce.
Make the sauce by mixing soybean paste, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and rice wine vinegar. Set aside for later.
Step three: Cook the protein.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook until lightly browned. 7-8 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if necessary to loosen up the pieces in the pan. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate. Wipe the skillet lightly with a paper towel if there are too many burned bits and pieces from the chicken. Or make crispy tofu, or cook shrimp.
Step four: Cook the eggplant.
Drain the soaked eggplants, and pat dry with a paper towel. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, then add the eggplants. Cook until the eggplants are caramelized and tender. Anywhere from 4-7 minutes, depending on the pan you’re using. Add water gradually as needed if the eggplants are browning too fast. Remove from the pan and set aside with the cooked chicken. We will add all these back in the pan in a bit.
Step five: Stir fry!
Swipe the pan with paper towels, then add one tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add garlic, chilis, and onion, and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onion is lightly caramelized. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if necessary to loosen up the pieces in the pan. You might start to cough from the chilis being fried. It’s normal! (A badge of honor when making stir-fries in a Thai kitchen!) (: Turn the vent on or open windows for some air circulation.
Add the vegetables (except the basil), stir, and cook for 3-4 more minutes until the vegetables are tender. If using cast iron pans, t they tend to cook everything more quickly because it conducts heat more. If using a non-stick pan, you may not need to add water at all.
Step seven: combine!
Bring the chicken and eggplants back into the pan with the vegetables. Stir well and cook for 2 more minutes.
Step eight: add the sauce.
Add the sauce, stir, and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Taste and adjust the flavors with more soy sauce and a dash of sugar and add more chilis for extra heat!
Step nine: add the basil.
Add the basil, stir in well, and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off. The residual heat will continue to cook the basil while not overcooking it. Let it cool for a few minutes.
Serve with rice, cauliflower rice or as a complete meal by itself!
Expert Tips (or FAQS)
Can this be made Vegan?
Yes, this recipe can be made vegan! Use vegan oyster sauce as a substitute. Instead of chicken, try crispy tofu, tempeh, or all vegetables instead of meat.
Ways to Adapt Thai Eggplant
- Add your favorite fresh and crunchy vegetables like bell peppers, banana peppers, asparagus, green beans, bok choy, snow peas, or broccolini.
- Add jalapeños, serrano, and fresh Thai chilis to add some heat!
- Use ground protein instead of sliced protein like ground chicken, turkey, beef, etc.
More recipes you may enjoy
- Thai grilled eggplant salad
- Chinese eggplants with spicy Szechuan sauce
- Moroccan eggplant
- Eggplant chickpea Tagine
- Zaatar roasted eggplant
- Grilled eggplant with greek relish
I hope you enjoy this recipe! I truly love sharing what I know about making tasty Thai food and bringing a little bit of my Thai culture to your kitchen. Food is a huge part of Thai culture, and we genuinely believe that sharing and eating food with others makes life so much better. I hope this recipe brings great delight to your heart and home!
Thai Eggplant Stir-Fry
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 40
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: dinner
- Method: Stir fry
- Cuisine: Thai
Thai Eggplant Stir Fry w/ your choice of protein, fresh veggies in a flavorful Thai stir-fry sauce with fragrant Thai basil. Vegan Adaptable.
- 1 pound eggplants, sliced long and thin. Use 2 Chinese or Japanese eggplants or 1 large Globe eggplant.
- 3– 4 tablespoons coconut oil (or peanut, or other high heat oil)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, roughly chopped
- 1–6 fresh Thai chilis, finely diced (optional, or sub milder chilies like jalapeno, or red chili paste)
- 1 pound chicken, thinly sliced. Use any protein of choice ( crispy tofu, ground turkey, shrimp, etc)
- 1/2 cup onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup bell peppers, bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup pea pods, chopped into 2-3 inch pieces (or sub more bell pepper)
- 1 cup Thai Basil (or sub regular basil)
- 1 tablespoon soybean paste (or sub miso paste)
- 2 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce or vegan oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar, or honey, maple, coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- Water as needed: add in gradually with each step to help prevent protein, eggplants, and vegetables from browning too quickly in the pan.
- Prep Eggplant. Cut the eggplants into long, 1/2-inch thick pieces about 1-2 inches long. Place in a medium bowl, cover with water and 1 teaspoon salt (stir) for 15-20 minutes to keep the eggplants from browning and tasting bitter. Set aside.
- Make the stir-fry sauce. Mix soybean paste, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar. Set aside for later.
- Cook the protein: Add a little oil to a large skillet or wok on medium heat. Add a 5-finger pinch of salt. to the oil. Once hot, add chicken or shrimp (see notes for tofu) and cook until lightly browned, and cooked through. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if necessary to loosen up the pieces in the pan. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate. Wipe the skillet lightly with a paper towel.
- Cook the eggplant: Drain the eggplant, and pat dry with a paper towel. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, then add the eggplant (or spray with spray oil). Cook until the eggplants are caramelized and translucent and tender. Anywhere from 4-7 minutes, depending on the pan you’re using. Remove from the pan and set aside with the cooked chicken.
- Stir fry: Swipe the pan again with a paper towel, then add one tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add garlic, chilis, and onion, and constantly stir for 2 minutes or until the onion is lightly caramelized. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if necessary to loosen up the pieces in the pan. You might start to cough from the chilis being fried. It’s normal! (A badge of honor when making stir-fries in a Thai kitchen!) (: Turn the vent on or open windows for some air circulation.
- Add the vegetables (except the basil), stir, and cook for 3-4 more minutes until the vegetables are tender. If using a cast iron pan, they tend to cook everything more quickly because it conducts more heat, so lower heat if necessary. If using a non-stick pan, you may not need to add water at all.
- Add the cooked chicken and eggplant back into the pan with the vegetables. Stir well and heat through about 2 minutes.
- Add the stir-fry sauce, and stir for 1-2 more minutes. Taste and adjust the flavors with more soy sauce and a dash of sugar and add more chilis for extra heat.
- Stir in the fresh basil, saute for 30 seconds, and turn the heat off. The residual heat will continue to cook the basil while not overcooking it. Let it cool for a few minutes. Serve over a plate with rice or carbs of your choice.
- A wok is an excellent tool for this stir fry. If not, use the largest pan you have.
- Add more Thai chilis, jalapenos, or serrano peppers for extra heat.
- Gradually add water while cooking the chicken to help loosen up the food from sticking to the pan. Lower the heat slightly to help prevent the chicken from browning too quickly.
- Go to this Crispy Tofu post to make the salt and pepper version.
- Serving Size: 1 1/8 cup ( doesn't include rice)
- Calories: 311
- Sugar: 9.1 g
- Sodium: 473 mg
- Fat: 13.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 9.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 17.8 g
- Fiber: 5.1 g
- Protein: 28.9 g
- Cholesterol: 82.7 mg
Keywords: Thai Eggplant, eggplant stir fry, thai eggplant stir-fry
This was quite delicious! Ran out of soybean paste and all the alternatives (miso, tahini), so I used peanut butter instead. Also doubled the sauce and added some sake to it.
Also made it with ground pork and brown rice! Add crushed peanuts on top! It was yum!
Love your adaptions- glad this worked fo you!
Whee-Oo! This was so good – way better than takeout. I used 5 chilis, which was plenty of heat. Fantastic recipe and relatively easy and fast to prepare. I used tofu and subbed broccolini for the snow peas since I didn’t have those.
Perfect- glad you enjoyed!
This was excellent as are so many other of your recipes. I am such a fan! I skipped the protein because I was also making a Thai chicken entree. A perfect recipe to feature our Japanese eggplant from our garden. I might try skipping the salting of the eggplant next time or use less salt. I find it too salty sometimes for my taste.
Glad you enjoyed this!
Whole Family loved this dish. Give yourself plenty of time to chop, but it came together easily.
Thanks we’re happy you enjoyed this!
So good! I love the quick way to make the eggplant, and how it soaks up the sauce. I used red serranos and Basil (reg) from the garden 🙂 I am loving these Thai dishes, thank you!!
We’re so happy you are enjoying them!
This was a delicious recipe and one of the better stir frys I have ever cooked. I was able to use up some of my late summer eggplant abundance which was gratifying. I didn’t have oyster sauce and subbed fish sauce, and used tofu as my protein. I am often reluctant to cook items separately a in a stir fry, I tend to throw it all in there in stages and not cook separately, but I followed Sylvia’s directions and I think it made it way better. Another favorite!
Awesome Whitney- glad you enjoyed this!
I made this last night and it was delicious. I used globe eggplant and Italian basil as I had that on hand. It took a bit longer to cook the eggplant, but it all came together and we loved it. Will definitely make this dish again.
Awesome Judith- great to hear!