Our best eggplant recipes include everything from our delicious eggplant dip inspired by the classic Sichuanese braised eggplant dish called ‘fish-fragrant eggplant’ and our Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra – known as the ‘poor man’s caviar’ during the Soviet period – to this delightful Thai grilled eggplant salad recipe with red shallots, fragrant mint and soft-boiled eggs.
I could eat eggplant every day. I count myself lucky to have lived in parts of the world where eggplant is such a key part of the cuisine and culture – from Australia, where I was raised in a Russian-Australian family, where my baboushka cooked one of my most favourite eggplant dishes of all, ikra, to the Middle East, where Terence and I lived for years and got to eat baba ganoush and muttabal several times a week.
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Best Eggplant Recipes from Eggplant Dips to Eggplant Salads and Grilled Eggplant Starters
Eggplant Dip Recipe Inspired by the Classic Sichuan Braised Eggplant Dish
This delicious eggplant dip recipe takes a classic Sichuanese braised eggplant dish called ‘fish-fragrant eggplant’ and transforms it into an amazing dip to serve as a starter and it’s one of our best eggplant recipes. Our eggplant dip recipe requires smaller pieces of eggplant, or aubergine if you prefer, that are further broken down in a mortar and pestle or food processor to create a dip-like texture. It’s a fantastic snack before settling down to a full Sichuanese feast. It’s perfect with our Sichuan flavoured sourdough starter discard crackers. In fact, Terence came up with the idea for the Sichuan inspired crackers to compliment this dip, so you have the zing of Sichuan peppercorns and the heat of Sichuan chillies. If you love Sichuan food and you love Middle Eastern eggplant or aubergine dips such as mutabal and baba ganoush, then you are going to love our eggplant dip recipe.
Russian Eggplant Caviar Recipe for Ikra, the Soviet Union’s Poor Man’s Caviar
This easy Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra – also known as the ‘poor man’s caviar’ during the Soviet period – makes a deliciously-rich version of this traditional Russian dip, spread or side dish that’s somewhere in between the ikra that my Russian grandmother made that was sumptuous and velvety and the ikra popularised during the Soviet era that more closely resembled a diced salad. It’s another of our best eggplant recipes. My baboushka would serve a big bowl of ikra alongside an array of dishes that filled their heavy round dining table that typically included a Russian garden salad, beetroot potato salad, savoury pirozhki (hand pies), stuffed cabbage rolls, potato vareniki and meat pelmeni. There’d also be dishes of dill pickles, sour cream, and crunchy cucumbers from papa’s backyard veggie garden. So good.
Grilled Eggplant Sandwich Recipe with Goats Cheese, Nduja and Sweet Red Capsicum
This grilled eggplant sandwich recipe with goats cheese, ‘nduja and sweet red capsicum is Terence’s take on legendary Australian chef Christine Manfield’s iconic eggplant sandwich with goats cheese, pesto and red capsicum and it’s another of our best eggplant recipes. In our version, we swap out Northern Italian basil pesto for Southern Italy’s ‘nduja, the spicy spreadable sausage paste from Calabria. Terence came up with the idea after we got hold of some of Calabria’s fiery pork sausage paste here in Cambodia and thought that was as good an excuse as any to tell you all about ’nduja and start a series on our best ’nduja recipes. We use a griddle pan to grill the eggplant slices. It not only gives you attractive griddle marks, but also allows the smoke from the grill to circulate. We use a silicon pastry brush to coat the eggplant with olive oil first, although a fibre pastry brush would also work for this eggplant sandwich recipe. More tips in the post.
Thai Grilled Eggplant Salad Recipe with Red Shallots, Fragrant Mint and Soft-Boiled Eggs
Light, fragrant and flavourful, this Thai grilled eggplant salad recipe makes a delightful dish of smoky pieces of creamy eggplant with sweet red shallots, aromatic mint, the umami of fish sauce, a sublime soft-boiled egg, and a kick of chilli. It’s easily another of our best eggplant recipes. This salad is best when the eggplant is straight from the grill or barbecue, and combined with the other ingredients just before serving. This eggplant salad makes a fantastic side dish, one of an array of dishes if you’re cooking up a Thai feast, or a filling main course if you add a five-minute egg and a bowl of jasmine rice, as we like to do. You’re unlikely to find this smoky Thai grilled eggplant salad at your neighbourhood Thai restaurant if it has a cookie-cutter Thai menu of satay sticks, fish cakes, and red and green Thai curries. If you’re Australian, you may remember it from David Thompson’s Sailor’s Thai restaurant in Sydney back in the day or you might also have spotted David Thompson’s Thai eggplant salad recipe in his Thai Food cookbook. You’ll need a mortar and pestle for this one.
Cambodian Grilled Eggplant with Minced Pork Recipe for Chha Trob
This Cambodian grilled eggplant with minced pork recipe makes a delicious Cambodian dish that’s called chha trob for short in Khmer and it’s one of our best eggplant recipes. The eggplant is char-grilled so it has a wonderful smoky flavour, while the minced pork, stir-fried with fermented soybeans, is a little funky, a little salty, and a little sweet. This grilled eggplant with minced pork dish was one of a handful of Cambodian specialties – along with a green mango salad, pomelo and prawn salad, and fish amok – that we were taught during a private cooking class by chef Kethana Dunnet, the godmother of Cambodian cuisine, on our first trip to Siem Reap many years ago. Every time we dined at Kethana’s restaurant The Sugar Palm, one of the best Cambodian restaurants in Siem Reap, we’d order this dish. It’s best made on an outdoor barbecue or, say, a Korean grill, or a traditional clay brazier of the kind we use here in Cambodia, rather than just in a pan. If you are using a brazier, we love these coconut charcoal BBQ briquettes. They are fantastic long-burning briquettes made from coconut shells. Of course, if you don’t have access to any of those, by all means, make this Cambodian grilled eggplant with minced pork recipe on your stovetop.
Homemade Sausage Rolls with Smoky Eggplant and Pork, A Cambodian Inspired Recipe
This homemade sausage rolls with smoky eggplant and pork mince recipe makes a delicious Cambodian-inspired sausage roll that takes its inspiration from the classic Cambodian dish called chha trob in Khmer of char-grilled eggplant with minced pork stir-fried with fermented soybeans, above. It’s one of our best eggplant recipes. We’re big fans of the traditional homemade Australian sausage rolls so we were delighted to find that this combination worked. In the early days of the pandemic, when we were staying at home, we undertook a lot of these Australian-Cambodian fusion experiments and were thrilled that they worked. We made Cambodian Saraman curried beef sausage rolls and a chunky curry beef pie, based on Cambodia’s wonderful Saraman curry, a relation of Thailand’s Massaman curry; a spicy pork minced pie filled with prahok k’tis, a rich pork mince, prahok, coconut cream, and pea eggplant dip; and a curried chicken pie recipe based on the gently-spiced Cambodian chicken curry. They’re all fantastic dipped into our homemade Sriracha sauce. If you enjoy this sausage roll, do give the others a try.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make any of our best eggplant recipes as we’d love to know how they turned out for you.