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Eggplant with Spicy Chili Sauce

Thai basil, which has purple stems, pointed leaves and a slight anise flavor, and small Thai chilies are sold at Asian groceries and many supermarkets. If they are not available, substitute Italian basil and 1/2 jalapeño or serrano chili.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. canola oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh red chili, preferably Thai, seeded and minced
  • 1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 6 Asian eggplant, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • Steamed rice for serving
  • 3 Tbs. slivered fresh basil, preferably Thai

Directions:

Prepare the grill
Prepare a hot fire in a grill. If using a gas grill, turn 1 burner on high and the other burner(s) on low. If using a charcoal grill, spread the coals into a slope.

Make the chili sauce
In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. oil. Add the shallot, garlic and chili and sauté until the shallot softens without browning, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

Grill the eggplant
Brush the eggplant with oil. Lightly oil the grill rack. Place the eggplant over the cooler area of the grill and cover the grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes.

Transfer the eggplant to a cutting board and chop into 1-inch chunks. Spoon the rice into shallow bowls, top with the eggplant and drizzle with the chili sauce. Sprinkle with the basil and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Grilling, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2007).