Curried Eggplant & Okra (Vegan)Monday, August 13, 2012
Give me some fresh veggies, a good coconut curry sauce and sticky brown rice, and I'm a happy girl. It doesn't really get any easier than this to make a ridiculously easy - yet impressive - vegan dish. This is a red curry sauce utilizing the fresh red curry paste from my previous post, however you could use your favorite store-bought paste. Just know you're breaking my kitchenista heart. Kidding...kidding. All jokes aside, make sure you are getting a vegan red curry paste, as many have fish sauce as an ingredient. I use Golden Mountain Sauce as a substitute in my curry paste, available in most Asian markets.
I often write about my attempt to branch out and use new ingredients as much as I can, so this time it was okra. They looked so green and fresh at the farmer's market, I couldn't resist picking up a carton. For $2, it was well worth taking a chance. Before you scrunch up your face in protest, I too am leery of the okra slime factor. I have only had non-slimy okra a couple times but it was fried beyond recognition in a thick breading, which is such a terrible way to treat vegetables isn't it? So to make sure I was going to like it, my first trial of okra cooking involved a very simple roast w/ just a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Perfection. I could have eaten the whole carton just like that. I figured something similar would work in a curry dish, so I decided on a quick pan fry to yield crispy skin minus the slime factor. Did you know that a cup of okra has just 30 calories and comes packed with fiber, calcium, and Vitamin K? I'm telling you - get on board with okra!
Because eggplant taste best when they are cooked just long enough get crispy on the outside and creamy inside, I also pan fried them prior to simmering in the curry sauce. I find Chinese eggplants to be an easier shape to work with and just a tad bit sweeter than other varieties, so they are my preference in stir fries and curries. The end result was crisp tender veggies that retained their flavor and texture in the sauce. Okra and eggplant have surprisingly similar tastes, so they worked well together in the curry. I was happy with this dish. Spicy but not overwhelming, rich in flavor and nutritional value. Once you get used to eating like this, Meatless Mondays quickly become a dinner night worth looking forward to!