Aubergines with soy + Thai basil

Just when I thought that having a Turkish father meant that I’d tried aubergines in almost every way possible, along comes this brilliant Vietnamese Soy + Thai basil recipe from Uyen Luu. Steaming the aubergines before frying them means that they are incredibly soft and actually don’t absorb every drop of oil in the world – they’re light as a feather, and with this sauce make a superb accompaniment to whatever else you might be eating. Serves 4 as a side dish, or I could totally eat half of this bowlful with a heap of steamed rice.


2 medium sized aubergines

30g unsalted butter

2 shallots (or 1 banana shallot)

Pinch +/- chilli flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp sesame oil

2 spring onions, sliced

Small handful Thai basil leaves


2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp chilli sauce of choice

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tsp maple syrup


  1. If you have a bamboo steamer, now’s the time to find it, if not, you can use a metal colander over a pan of boiling water with a lid on top. Set your steamer up (mine fits nicely in a large deep sided frying pan), and put some boiling water in the pan but don’t let it touch the cooking surface of the steamer.
  2. Slice the aubergines into 2 cm rounds and put them in the steamer – make sure there’s space for the steam to circulate around them. Steam for 5 minutes, then remove to a plate.
  3. While that’s happening mix together the sauce ingredients.
  4. Heat a wok or frying pan over a really high heat, add the butter and fry the shallots, chilli flakes and garlic for a minute, before adding in the aubergines – space them out and leave them to brown for a minute or so before flipping to cook the other side.
  5. Pour in the sauce, most of the spring onion and rip in two thirds of the basil and fry until it’s all lovely and hot.
  6. Serve with rest of the spring onion and basil, and dive in.

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