Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh

 Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.comCycling around the dramatic crags of Ninh Binh in northern Vietnam is like being in “Halong Bay on Land”. Indeed, that is how many people describe it. Our recipe for eggplant claypot is designed to transport you to this magical place. This is an easy dish to prepare and you do not need a claypot to prepare it.

Eggplant claypot is a heavier dish than most in Vietnam and is well suited to the cooler climate you experience in Ninh Binh, located in northern Vietnam. Any dish that features lemongrass, Asian eggplants, tomatoes, fish sauce and those fantastic herbs like Vietnamese mint and cilantro (coriander) is a winner.  And for those of you that are vegetarians, eggplant claypot is a great option.

In Hoi An, the acknowledged food capital of Vietnam, we prepared and ate this popular dish at the Red Dragon Cooking School. There are many regional variations to the dish and this recipe is our interpretation of what we ate in Ninh Binh.

And Ninh Binh? It is slightly off the tourist path but it won’t be for long! Read on to experience and learn more about idyllic Ninh Binh.

Idyllic Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is home to rocky crags, with gorgeous rice fields carved in between them. It is another slightly surreal place where you need to pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. It is that spectacular.

Halong Bay on Land - Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.com

It is also off the beaten tourist path. Vietnam is heavily populated in a small amount of space. In a word it is crowded. Ninh Binh, Mai Chau and Sapa are more rural than some of the other destinations we have featured in Vietnam. You can take advantage of that here and safely cycle around quiet roads and lanes connecting some of the smaller villages and farmlands.

Cycling was an activity we enjoyed every day here. We cycled as far and wide as we could manage. During one of our trips we just happened to stumble across this procession going on in the middle of nowhere. It is one of our favorite memories of Vietnam.

Festival - Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.com

With a bicycle, we could also cycle through villages which were not on the major roads. You do get a different perspective of village life in the back streets and you can stop wherever you so desire.

Hiking is another activity you can comfortably undertake here. It’s a little cooler than the south and as you can see the landscape is spectacular. What isn’t there to like about hiking here?

River - Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.com

During another of our cycling trips we crossed a river which flows lazily through the rocky crags. As you can see it is a very popular activity for the locals. There are plenty of boats for hire at multiple locations where you can sit back and relax and take in the magnificent scenery. No need to do the paddling as that service comes with the boat. Note the unusual paddling style of the locals, where the feet are employed rather than the hands, thereby saving your back.

main ingredienbts - Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh

 

On the weekends, Ninh Binh is a popular weekend getaway for residents of Hanoi, although still quiet compared to the rest of Vietnam. The boat hire businesses do a roaring trade. During the week it is sleepy, just how we like it.

After all of that exercise, you need a good meal and one of our favorite Vietnamese dishes is this eggplant claypot. The eggplants used in Vietnamese cooking are usually long and skinny, just like we saw in Turkey.  But we also ate small pea-shaped eggplants which were minuscule (slighter bigger than a green pea). Any eggplant will work with this dish, just make sure they are cut into smallish, bite-size pieces.  Give this eggplant claypot recipe a try and let us know what you think.

 

 

Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.com

 

ready to eat -A Foodies Guide to the Best of Vietnam Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.com
Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh
Print Recipe
Print Recipe
Easy to make, great Vietnamese taste. You can use a saucepan or stove top-safe casserole dish. If you can't find Asian-style eggplants, use the egg-shaped eggplants we usually see in the west.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4people 10minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 10minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Put a stove top-safe, medium size clay pot* on a medium heat. Add the peanut oil. When warmed add the garlic and stir gently until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, lemongrass and two tbsp water and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add one tbsp of the fish sauce and the sugar. Mix well. Add the green onion and eggplants. Pour in a cup of water, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce, mix well and bring to the boil. Add the red chili, turmeric, ground pepper and lemongrass stalk. Allow mixture to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until eggplant is tender.in the claypot - Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.com
  3. Whilst the eggplant is cooking, make the garnish by simply mixing all of the sliced ingredients together.garnish ingredients - Eggplant Claypot from Absolutely Beautiful Ninh Binh www.compassandfork.com
  4. Remove the lemongrass stem and serve the eggplant mixture with steamed rice. Top with the garnish.
Recipe Notes

# Our free, Asian cooking guide includes a detailed catalog of typical Asian herbs, vegetables and ingredients (including close-up pictures).  See sidebar and the bottom of this post.

Don't despair if you don't have a clay pot!  You can use a stove top-safe casserole dish or a saucepan.

For lemongrass, only use the lower, pale portion of the stem (the first 3 or 4 inches) with the the tough, outer leaves removed.  Slice thinly across the stem.  The upper part of the stem is great for flavoring stocks or for using as a skewer to cook meats.  You can substitute with lemon peel.

You can substitute the 2 Asian-style eggplants with 1 egg-shaped eggplant.

This dish isn't overly spicy but if you dislike warm foods remove the seeds from the red chili in the garnish.

 

24 Responses

  1. Wow I loved this. Yes I love the eggplant claypot too but the journey through Ninh Binh was amazing and I want to go

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Tania, you will love Vietnam. Ninh Binh was a highlight (a little quieter than other parts of the country). We will be covering Vietnam for the rest of October. You can catch all of our Vietnamese posts here. Thanks for your comment.

  2. IttyBittyFoodies
    | Reply

    What an amazing blog you have. Love travel and food especially Asian food. I’m always looking to expand the palates of my little ones

    http://www.ittybittyfoodies.com

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thanks very much for your kind comment. Use some chopsticks. That will get your little ones interested in Asian food! Cheers….Mark

  3. Chris
    | Reply

    Oh, how I’m salivating thinking of Vietnamese food (it’s been so long)!

    Such beautiful photos of one of the few places in Vietnam we’ve not visited.

    One of my favourite countries! 🙂

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Chris, thanks for your comment.

      Vietnam is a great place isn’t it? We loved the food there as you can tell. And all very affordable.

  4. Tami
    | Reply

    The food looks very appetizing – great idea to include a recipe. I also enjoyed your photos. All the green and that peaceful-looking water are very appealing!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment Tami. I pinch myself when I look at some of those photos. It truly is a spectacular place.

  5. I sadly never made it here when travelling round Vietnam. This looks like an epic recipe. Perfect for a cold day back home to send my taste buds through the roof 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to try my hand at it.

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment James. Ninh Binh is a little off the beaten tourist path. It is a good excuse to return to Vietnam though! Enjoy the eggplant.

  6. I am such fan of Asian cuisine, so having come across your recipe really made my day. I will be making these soon with my friends.

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thanks Karla. Always nice to receive feedback like that. I love the contrast of tastes you manage to get from the one dish.

  7. Erin
    | Reply

    This looks amazing. A perfect dish for me try now that the weather is cooling off here in Pittsburgh.

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Hi Erin. Thanks for your comment. Yes this dish is quite warming (but not too spicy). Good for fall!

  8. Mar
    | Reply

    Yum I think I would like that. I guess you do need the cycling and trekking to be able to enjoy the delicious food!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Mar, every little bit helps! 🙂 It is a great way to see the country though as well.

  9. I’m a secret food porn warrior and will be heading to Vietnam soon! Will definitely try this one! I’m crazy trying new dishes across the world!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Mary, Agree sometimes I think we just eat our way around the world! It definitely shapes our itinerary! And it is great to eat them at home and remember the trip!

  10. Gemma
    | Reply

    What an appealing article. I love the backstory before the recipe. I love to cycle, so many benefits when abroad. Ninh Binh certainly does look like Halong Bay on land, less garbage floating about too I hope!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Gemma, It is a very scenic area and we loved we could get around by bike, it has it’s touristy aspects but worth the trip!

  11. Evan keistine
    | Reply

    Oh yummy! I love cooking in clay oit, makes the taste intruiging! This recipe looks grand, migh test it today! ❤️

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Evan, Agree about the clay pot, amazing how many places use it! Hope you enjoy it- it is very tasty!

  12. Trisha Velarmino
    | Reply

    These are my kind of blog posts! Been wanting to cook a Vietnamese dish for our cultural nights. This will be a good addition!

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