Fairy Tale Eggplant with Crispy Shallots and Thai Dressing


Chef Joe Ogrodnek (BNC class of 2014) pulls out all the stops with this next-level eggplant dish. First he seasons the eggplant and lets it sit before charring on the grill to draw out moisture and add flavor from the inside out. Then he adds plenty of crispy-crunchy texture to the silky grilled eggplant by stuffing each one with peanuts, fried shallots and garlic, fresh herbs, onions, and radishes before drizzling the punchy dressing on top. Delicious hot or room temperature, they’re perfect for your next summer cookout. Be sure to using hot water in the dressing to help dissolve the sweet, floral coconut palm sugar.Related: More Eggplant Recipes

Fairy Tale Eggplants with Crispy Shallots and Thai Dressing Recipe
Photo: Photo by Tara Donne / Food Styling by Chris Lanier / Prop Styling by Raina Kattelson
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
45 mins



  • 4 medium Japanese eggplants (about 1 3/4 pound)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 6 tablespoons hot water

  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup fish sauce (such as Viet Huong Three Crabs Brand)

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic

  • 1/2 fresh Thai chile, unseeded, finely chopped

  • 1 (2-inch) piece lemongrass stalk, halved lengthwise and smashed

  • 1 makrut lime leaf (optional)


  • 1/4 cup roughly torn fresh basil, cilantro, and/or mint, plus more for sprinkling

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped peanuts

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

  • 2 teaspoons crispy fried shallots (such as Maesri)

  • 2 teaspoons fried garlic (such as Maesri)


Start the grilled eggplant

  1. Preheat grill to very high (500°F and up). Peel eggplants, leaving stems intact. Season all over with salt and pepper, and place on a small baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature at least 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes; pat dry with paper towels.

Make the Thai dressing

  1. Whisk together 6 tablespoons hot water and sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in fish sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic, and chile. Add lemongrass, and, if desired, lime leaf.

Finish the grilled eggplant

  1. Place eggplants on oiled grates; grill, covered, turning occasionally, until slightly charred and very tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise (do not cut all the way through).

Assemble the dish

  1. Divide eggplants among 4 large shallow bowls. Stuff eggplants evenly with herbs, radishes, and red onion. Drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over each stuffed eggplant. Top evenly with peanuts, scallions, fried shallots, and fried garlic. Sprinkle with additional herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Alternatively, eggplant can be cooked in a skillet. Working in batches, sear the eggplants in vegetable oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high until browned on all sides and tender.

Suggested Pairing

Aromatic, medium-bodied Alsace white.

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