For being away from Thailand for so many years, the boyfriend has pretty discriminating Thai taste buds.
Take, as an example, the time a few weeks ago when I served him my Thai-style grilled eggplant salad. This salad was composed of grilled slices of Thai eggplant topped with the classic chili, lime, and fish sauce dressing and some fresh herbs. It certainly wasn’t too much of a stretch from being “authentic” Thai, but it also wasn’t the traditional version of this dish, which calls for roasting the eggplant whole and then combining the soft, smoky-flavored flesh with the above ingredients in addition to dried shrimp and boiled eggs.
I had decided to go the “Thai-style” route because I knew that I would enjoy that salad, and besides, it’s easier to take photos of grilled eggplant slices than mushy roasted eggplant innards.
And the boyfriend did enjoy this Thai-style eggplant salad when I served it to him. But no more than two bites into the dish, he stopped eating and said, “This would be great with some boiled eggs”.
I’m not sure if he knew that I was attempting a Thai-style salad rather than making the traditional version, or if he had never had the more authentic version and really just thought it would taste better with eggs.
In any case, his comment prompted me to try the more traditional version of this dish, and I’m glad I did. It really is an awesome salad, mushy roasted eggplant innards, eggs, and all. The mild sweetness of the roasted eggplant plays well against the strong, bright flavors of lime, chili, and fresh herbs. And somehow the egg adds substance that you didn’t even know was missing, with the end result being a wonderfully light, yet completely filling Thai salad. I hope you’ll give it a try too!