Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Neecha Thai demystifies the beautiful eggplant

Using eggplant in cooking is like meeting a mysterious woman: She's beautiful, but how do you approach her with any hope for success?

Not sure about translating the success I found in an eggplant dish at Neecha Thai restaurant in San Francisco into a lasting relationship with the beautiful vegetable in my kitchen. But my Tuesday night dining experience demystified it for me, and I'll likely take a closer look at the offerings of eggplant at the Fillmore Farmers' Market.

"Special eggplant" on the menu didn't attract me, but having never dined at Neecha Thai, I did what I often do in a new place: ask the waitress for a recommendation. Her response: Do you like spicy and like eggplant? Sure, I said, hoping my hesitation about eggplant wasn't apparent. She recommended the dish, and the rest is history.

It was delicious. The eggplant was tender and succulent, as were the onions and red bell peppers. The prawns were cooked just right. The sauce, a red wine reduction, was complementary and not overpowering. The jalapeños were, well, hot! Overall, an excellent dish that I would order again.

And, perhaps it will help me figure out an approach in my kitchen for the mysterious beauty of eggplant.

P.S. The Muk Krob, which is deep-fried calamari and fried basil leaves appetizer, also was first rate. My dining companions both had the Thai natonal dish, Pad Thai, and were lukewarm about it. Shoulda gone with the waitress's recommendation, I say.

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