Thai Basil Eggplant and Pork Stir Fry

Adapted from https://www.cookwithmanali.com/thai-basil-eggplant/

This is an easy and absolutely delicious stir fry—perfect for a hearty lunch or a weeknight meal. The sauce is a take on hoisin; with just the right amount of salt, sweet, and heat, this is much yummier (and healthier) than takeout!

Ingredients for the Sauce:

2.5 TBSP maple syrup (agave nectar or honey is also fine)

3 TBSP soy sauce or tamari

2 TBSP rice wine vinegar

1 TBSP peanut butter

2 tsp sriracha, plus more to top if desired

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

A pinch of five-spice powder

1/3 cup plus 2 TBSP pork stock* (plus more as needed), preferably homemade

2 tsp cornstarch

*If you don’t have pork stock, chicken stock or even water will do.

Ingredients for the Stir Fry:

4 TBSP neutral oil (such as canola), plus more as needed

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

10 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized cubes

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into slices about ¾” thick by 4” long

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into slices about ¾” thick by 4” long

2 Japanese eggplant (or two small eggplants; if the skin is a bit thick, roughly peel), cut into slices about ¾” thick by 4” long

Sake or Chinese rice wine, to deglaze

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ½” piece of ginger, minced

1 serrano pepper, finely chopped

A handful of Thai or holy basil, finely chopped, plus more to garnish

Salt, as needed

Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

Instructions:

Add all the sauce ingredients except for the corn starch and the extra 2 TBSP pork stock to a blender and pulse until smooth. Set aside. Mix the corn starch and the 2 TBSP pork stock together in a small bowl until it forms a smooth slurry and set aside.

Add the oil to a large cast iron skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and pork shoulder and stir-fry until the onion is semi-translucent and softened and the pork is almost cooked through (a tiny bit of pink left on it is fine, since it’s going to go back into the skillet later)—about 4 minutes. Remove to a large bowl, add a bit more oil if necessary, and add the peppers. Stir fry until the peppers have softened to fork-tenderness, about 2 minutes, then add to the large bowl with the pork. Add the eggplant and shiitake (you might need to do this in two batches), splashing with a little pork stock as needed to keep the eggplant from getting to dry and/or burning; cook until the eggplant has softened and the mushrooms have released their juices, about 8 minutes, then add to the large bowl.

Deglaze the skillet with a generous splash of sake or Chinese rice wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet constantly to lift any brown bits. Turn the heat to medium and add a bit more oil. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper and stir constantly for about a minute, until the aromatics are fragrant.

Give the cornstarch slurry another quick whisk. Add the large bowl of pork, mushrooms, and vegetables back into the skillet and then pour in the sauce and slurry. Stir well. Bring to a boil then immediately lower to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.

Turn the heat to low. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired and stir in the basil. Serve immediately, topped with toasted sesame seeds, more basil, and more sriracha if it pleases you.

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