This not-your-classic version of eggplant dip (Baba Ghanoush) has an Asian twist with sauteed onions, garlic, ginger, soy and rice wine. It’s super flavorful, luxurious, slightly smoky and very tasty.
My cousin first introduced this eggplant dip to our family years ago. Since then, I’ve discovered its roots in a New York Times recipe and played with the ingredients to achieve the taste I like.
The dip can be made as smoky, spicy and aromatic as you want by varying the technique and ingredients. For example, the longer you leave the charred skin in contact with the flesh of the eggplant before peeling it off, the smokier it will taste. The heat can be varied with more or less chili flakes (or sriracha). Increase the garlic or ginger, add more sweetness with brown sugar, and so on.
The classic Egyptian eggplant dip (or Baba Ghanoush) is typically made with lemon, garlic and tahini. The Israeli version adds some mayonnaise. The Greek version is generally left chunkier and includes raw onions. This version is pureed and has a wonderful and different blend of tastes. And it’s spicy! (or not)
How To Choose An Eggplant
When choosing a dark purple eggplant, bigger is not better. Larger more mature eggplants tend to be more bitter and have more seeds. Look for an eggplant that is firm (with just slight give to the touch), shiny, smooth and not wrinkled. The stem should be green.
Ways to Use Eggplant Dip
In addition to a dip with any type of cracker, raw vegetable or chip (or even our easy cheese twists), here are a few other ways to use eggplant dip:
- spread on a crostini or cracker, topped with chopped tomato and cucumber
- as a topping for burgers
- as a filling in a grilled chicken pita sandwich with tomatoes and tzatziki sauce (yum)
Tailor To Your Taste
Consider a few variations to get to the taste you like.
- Use Japanese eggplants because their flesh is creamy when cooked and seedless.
- Garnish with or incorporate chopped cilantro.
- Add a bit of smoked paprika if you want a smokier taste or if you chose to roast (instead of grill) your eggplant.
- Vary the amounts of brown sugar, ginger, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and garlic.
- The eggplant dip can be made ahead and kept in fridge, covered, or in sealed container for up to 5 days. I actually like it even better the next day with the flavors have time to blend.
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
- 1 tsp vegetable or olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp rice wine (or lemon juice)
- 1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
- salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
- optional: 2-3 drops sesame oil or more
- GRILL EGGPLANT: Heat grill to high. Pierce eggplant in several spots with a sharp knife. Place eggplant on grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. Eggplant is ready when very soft (pierced through with knife) and charred. [To ROAST instead, see NOTE 1]. Transfer to colander and slit eggplant open. Let drain and cool. Remove skin and seeds (if any).
- MAKE FLAVOR MIXTURE: While eggplant is grilling, heat oil in a small pan to medium heat. Add onions and saute 5-6 minutes until tender. Stir in garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add soy, brown sugar, rice wine, chili flakes and salt. Bring to boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- BLEND EGGPLANT DIP: Place cooked eggplant flesh in food processor. Add onion mixture. Process until smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion stick blender. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Add a few drops of sesame oil if using (I do). Serve cold, warm or at room temperature with pita chips, raw vegetables or crackers.
- To roast eggplant: Heat oven to 425F. Rub eggplant with olive oil and pierce with a knife in several places. Place on pan lined with foil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until very tender, turning once or twice part way through.
- Make ahead: Dip can be made ahead and kept in fridge covered or in sealed container for up to 5 days.
Here a few other appetizers you might like:
Oven Roasted Garlic Appetizer get the recipe
Spiced Herbed Popcorn get the recipe
Homemade Dukkah Appetizer get the recipe