Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Eggplant, Pumpkin & Tofu in Garlic Sauce

He asked if I wanted to get dinner some time.

I said yes, but added that I was going away for a few weeks.

Typical LA stuff really. I was going to a retreat and there would be no phone access. Had to get my chakras aligned.

That's the trouble with getting together in this town...

You meet someone great and the next week they are off to Hungary to work on the new Steven Spielberg project, or they have to finish a script in three weeks and then start pre-production and then do revisions until fall but they really want to get together, so what are you doing the third Thursday in May of 2008 because I think I will be free...


But somehow, several weeks later, our schedules did end up coordinating. He had a night to himself and my chakras were sparkling (or, um, pulsating, or whatever they are supposed to do.)...we met at Toi on Sunset. (I give no pause to the Santa Monica location...it's a shallow imitation...)

I love Toi. It's dark and loud and rock n'roll (a recurring theme in places I habitually visit. Jones Hollywood and Swingers being other examples.) And they serve something for everyone.

We split spring rolls and the red duck curry. I ordered the eggplant and pumpkin because I always do. Because it is the best thing on the menu.

He balked at the eggplant. He turned his nose up at the curry.

The relationship was doomed before it began.

I on the other hand, paid close attention to what I was eating and have recreated it here. For you rock stars who can't get out to Hollywood for a taste of delicious.

The dish is all about the feisty mix of textures, while being sweet and spicy and pungent with garlic.

Try it, and enjoy!

2 medium Japanese eggplants
1 small Japanese pumpkin
1 small red bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 small thai bird chile
½ cup tofu (optional)
5 cloves garlic, slivered
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ cups vegetable stock (mushroom is best)
1 small handful Thai basil

Chop all of the vegetables into large dice. Mince the chile, add to the veg and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with some cold water (a tablespoon or so) to create a slurry.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, minced chile and sugar. Add the vegetables and the veg stock.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Remove the lid and let simmer another 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Add the slurry, stir to combine. Reduce the heat and add the basil.

Serve with rice.

Makes enough for four


Japanese pumpkins are also called Kabocha It is dense and sweet and has a texture more like a potato than pumkin.

As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. ~Buddy Hackett

Check out this fantastic Spanish Tapas cooking class taking place in West Los Angeles! Why not sign up?

Tofu was first used in China around 200 B.C.

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You make me laugh, but I whole-heartedly agree: men who are picky eaters are a huge bore. This looks fantastic!
One of my friends and I had a rule that we would not date picky eaters, because dating a picky eater potentially meant falling in love with and choosing to marry a picky eater. I stuck with it and love that my husband will eat any dish I could think to make . . . possibly even ones I wouldn't!

Anyway, the meal looks delicious. I don't think I can find bird chiles here, though. What alternative would you suggest?
LOL. And the worst part? I'M a picky eater! LOL.

VP - I would say any chile is fine. It just needs that touch of heat.
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