These are a healthier adaptation of a Thai dish, which is usually served deep fried as a sort of fritter – you can think of them as an Asian vegetarian take on the Mid-Atlantic crab cake. However, here they are done on the grill instead for a lower fat content and the flavor of the grill enlivening the taste of the vegetables.
This is a recipe which is mostly prepared in the kitchen rather than on the grill; but you will not mind when you have these healthy Thai appetizers with some sweet and sour sauce, or fiery Thai Sriracha sauce. Even kids will love eating their vegetables in the form of these delicious grilled vegetable cakes – they do not have to know there is eggplant and carrots involved. You can change up the vegetables used in this recipe as long as you keep the proportions roughly equal. Spinach, gai lan (also known as Chinese broccoli) and many other vegetables work well in these grilled vegetable delights.
One of the most appealing things about this recipe is how simple it is to throw together. All you need to do is prepare the vegetables and then you can combine them with the other ingredients. To prepare them you need to grate or finely dice them, and of course that is much simpler if you use a food processor. If you do not have one then you can prepare them by hand. That is going to take longer than using a food processor but it is perfectly possible to make these by hand. The results might not be so uniform, and every tiny piece might not be the same size, but that is part of the charm of making things yourself and going for homemade charm.
As well as the vegetables you need egg, breadcrumbs and basil. The egg helps to bind the vegetables together while the breadcrumbs stop it from being too loose or too wet. The combination of all the ingredients should yield a nice batter which is wet enough to hold together but dry enough so you can shape the batter into patties. Choose whether to use a cookie cutter for more uniform shapes or whether to shape them by hand for a more freeform result. Let the barbeque heat up fully before you put these on there. The fritters need time to sit anyway so they can set properly, so do not worry if the grill takes a while to get hot enough.
The fritters are done when they are crispy on the outside and cooked through, hot on the inside too. Flip these a couple of times during cooking for an even result. You can serve them with your favorite dipping sauce, perhaps something made with soy sauce and sesame oil with a squeeze of lime, or even some sweet chili sauce. Cooking these on the barbeque means a lower-fat result than if you were to fry them in hot oil, so not only do you get a crispy and delicious result, but you also get something more nutritious than many similar recipes.
- 1 large egg or 2 small eggs
- 2 cups eggplant, diced finely
- ½ cup grated carrots
- ? cup breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
- ? cup fresh basil, torn (Thai basil is best for this, especially holy basil, but any will do)
- ¼ c. chopped green onions
- salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
- Fresh basil or cilantro, for garnish
- Like any kind of fritter, preparation is pretty straightforward: simply mix everything together, adding a little more breadcrumbs if necessary.
- Form into patty shapes with a cookie cutter or by hand.
- Once the grill is warm (which will allow your vegetable cakes plenty of time to set), add them to a well-cleaned grill on medium heat.
- Depending on exactly how hot your grill is, it can take anywhere between 3-6 minutes per side, so you will want to keep an eye on these as they grill.
- Once they are done, serve hot with sweet and sour, chili sauce or the condiments of your choice.
These vegetable cakes have an Asian flair and flavor to them and are a nice change from crab cakes or other similar fried cakes. The grill makes these them a lot healthier than if they had been fried. Feel free to alter the vegetables you use in these, using whichever are your favorites. Once you have experienced the delicious flavor of these you will want to make them again and again, possibly experimenting with the ingredients you put in them. Something else you can try is mashed beans, like kidney beans or butterbeans, for a different texture and taste.
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