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As in, “Makheua Yao Pad Tao Jiao” (Stir-Fried Eggplant With Minced Pork)

    As in, Makheua Yao Pad Tao Jiao (Stir-Fried Eggplant With Minced Pork)

    Classic Thai-Chinese cuisine seasoned with fermented soybean paste, garlic, fresh chilies, and Thai basil.

    Makheua yao pad tao jiao, a traditional Thai-Chinese meal of stir-fried eggplant with minced pork, is among my favourite ways to eat eggplant. The simple but fragrant meal is a staple at the curry and rice stands known as khao gaeng, and it’s also often cooked at home using tao jiao (fermented yellow bean sauce), garlic, fresh chilies, and licorice-tasting Thai sweet basil.

    Chinese influence led to the spread of wok cooking in contemporary Thai cuisine, which is most often associated with fast food joints and fine dining establishments, especially the kind of cooking that calls for high temperatures to create the smokey taste known as wok hei. Wok hei can be created on a stovetop, but I think it’s better left to professional chefs using commercial woks and high-powered burners. Cooking the components for a meal in smaller batches and mixing them at the end helps avoid steaming your ingredients to mush, therefore I believe home chefs should concentrate on other principles of stir-frying instead.

    Cornstarch, white vinegar, water, and salt form a protective coating that inhibits enzymatic browning, a chain reaction that happens in certain foods when their sliced surfaces are exposed to air. I apply this mixture to the eggplant slices before putting them in the oven. After that, I quickly fried the eggplant in high oil to soften it while keeping its beautiful purple colour. After the eggplant is done, I brown the ground pork with the garlic and chiles and leave it aside while I create the sauce; this keeps the pork from drying out as a regular stovetop burner can’t bring sauces to a quick boil like a wok burner would. To finish the meal, I return the eggplant and pork to the pan and bring the sauce prepared with tao jiao, oyster sauce, and soy sauce, along with water and sugar to balance the taste, to a quick simmer. This meal is delicious with fragrant jasmine rice and is finished with Thai basil for a herbal kick.

    If you want to make twice as much, you’ll need to prepare it in repeated batches. Avoid doing it all at once; on a home cooktop, this stir-fry exceeds the maximum quantity I would suggest frying in a wok.


    When making stir-fry, Sauce:

    • 40 grammes of Thai fermented soybean paste, or around 2 teaspoons
    • Oyster sauce, especially Thai style, 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
    • Light soy sauce, either Thai or Chinese, 2 teaspoons (10 ml)
    • 1 tsp. sugar (3 g)
    • Two Tablespoons (about 30 ml) of Water

    The Eggplant Needs to Know:

    • For frying eggplant, you’ll need 1 cup (240 ml) of neutral oil, such vegetable oil.
    • Two Japanese eggplants, weighed to be around 12 ounces (340 grammes), peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced on the bias into 1-inch sections
    • Cornstarch, 1 tablespoon (15 g)
    • White vinegar, 1 tsp (5 ml)
    • Water, two teaspoons’ worth (around 10 millilitres).
    • Kojic salt

    Ground pork, about 5 ounces (150 grammes) for the stir-fry

    • Five pea-sized garlic cloves (25 grammes), crushed and coarsely sliced
    • 2–3 stemmed and thinly sliced fresh Thai chilies (2–3g total)
    • Approximately 30 grammes (1 ounce) of fresh sweet basil leaves, put into a cup (a.k.a. Thai basil)


    Here are the stir-fry sauce’s how- to’s: Combine the fermented soy bean paste, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and water in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Take out of the way.

    A dark sauce is blended together in a metal bowl: The Eggplant Needs to Know Arrange some paper towels on a baking sheet with a lip. Prepare a big heatproof mixing bowl with a sieve and place it on a safe, heatproof surface. Oil should be heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) in a wok over high heat. Eggplant, cornflour, vinegar, water, and salt should be combined in a separate, big mixing dish. Combine using your hands to get a complete coating. Carefully toss half the eggplant into the pan and stir-fry for approximately 30 seconds, or until cooked through. Transfer the eggplant to the prepared baking sheet using the spider skimmer. Bring oil back up to temperature (around 205 degrees Celsius) and cook the remaining eggplant. Carefully pour the heated frying oil through a sieve into a big mixing bowl after all of the eggplant has been cooked; then put aside to cool before discarding or reserving. Clear the residue from the wok and place it back on the burner.

    For the Stir-Fry: Collage of four images showing eggplant in various stages of preparation: unmixed mixture in a bowl, eggplant covered in mixture in a bowl, eggplant being scooped out of oil in a wok with a spider, and an above view of eggplant frying in a wok.

    Prepare the following ingredients for the stir-fry: Bring the wok back up to a smoky high heat. After reserving the oil used to cook the eggplant, add 2 teaspoons (30 ml) and swirl the wok to cover the bottom and sides with oil. Put the pork in the pan and flatten it out with the spatula. Leave the pork alone for approximately 20 seconds, or until the underside is gently browned. Turn the pork over and use the spatula to cut it up into little bits while you stir it continually. After 1 minute, add the garlic and chile and simmer while stirring continually until aromatic. The pork mixture should be moved to a small bowl and put aside.

    Special Equipment

    Carbon steel wok, wok spatula.

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Stored in an airtight container, the sauce will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

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