I think I’ve probably mentioned before that although I try with all my might not to be an impulse shopper, I’m a huge sucker for cutsie foods.
Like Grapples. (Believe it or not Grapples – that is, apples that smell like grapes – are a real thing. But their flavor isn’t nearly as enticing as their scent. We all know that impulse buys are rarely, if ever, worth the money; but even knowing this, impulse buys are still hard to resist thanks to the evil geniuses who design supermarkets, lol.)
These cupcakes. (Come on, how cute are they?)
Or pretty much any “miniature” or “baby-sized” food. (Except baby carrots…for some reason – and I know they’re just regular-sized carrots that have been cut down – they just seem weird. I avoid them like the plague.)
So a while ago when I saw the sweetest little Thai eggplants at the market, there was no way I could pass them up. (And don’t even bother asking me why I’m cool with mini-sized eggplants but baby carrots freak me out. I have no answer to give you and I’m not quite sure I want to know, lol.)
What to do with a pound of teensy-tiny little eggplants? Make tempura. And then eat lunch.
And the best part? Fusion at its finest. Thai eggplant, Indian flour, Japanese cooking style, Chinese-inspired dipping sauce.
(For a pretty funny story involving tempura and the lengths we’ll go to get our kids to eat green, check out Operation Green Bean.)
- 6 tablespoons besan (chickpea flour)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 lb (450 g) Thai eggplants, washed and stems trimmed
- 2 ice cubes
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- For the tempura, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, salt, black pepper, and turmeric in a medium bowl. Add the eggplants and toss to coat. Add the ice to keep the batter cold and thin it out slightly as you heat up the oil.
- Add about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil to a medium saucepan with deep sides; bring the oil temperature to 350F over medium-high heat.
- Add half of the eggplant, allowing the excess batter to drip off each piece before adding it to the oil. Cook until the eggplant is tender and the batter is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil, and cook the remaining eggplant the same way.
- For the sauce, whisk together all ingredients.
- Serve the eggplant hot, with the sauce on the side for dipping.