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Sriprhapai jungle curry

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  • Harry Rolnick May 15, 2001 09:39 AM
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Sripraphai is the only Thai restaurant, even serving up the one passable kai yang (barbecued Laotian chicken), where other places make it seem like poached fowl. Jungle curry (gaeng ba) is called such because it comes from the villages, where meat is scarce.Thus, veggies are almost exclusively used. Yes, bamboo and bean sprouts, but ESPECIALLY the tiny eggplants you find mainly in Southeast Asia.

The peppers are necessary. And are VERY hot. Bangkokians rarely eat gaeng ba. Asking whether you want jungle curry "spicy" is like asking if you want chocolate fudge cake "sweet."

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  1. Please help a San Franciscan understand what you mean by "tiny eggplant", which I've seen mentioned a few times on these boards. Do you mean the oval shaped ones which are about the size of a duck egg? They may be white, lavender or dark purple.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      They are green. Here is a link to a Timeout NY article that has a picture of them:

      http://www.alltheweb.com/go/1/H/timeo...

      I myself have had them in Sripraphai's duck in chile sauce, and have bought and cooked them at the grocery next door to them.

      1. re: Jayask

        Green is new to me, and these are rounder in shape than the small egg-shaped varieties I've seen out here. What I couldn't tell from the picture is dimension - are these eggplant about the size of an apricot?

        Everything else on the page I'm well familiar with. The black vinegar is a wonderful thing to have on the shelf. It has such a mellow flavor, use it instead of balsamic for a different twist.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          About the size of a cherry tomato. From my recollection (it's been a few years), they're very bitter.

          1. re: CR

            The article suggested eating them raw, are they still bitter when cooked?

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I used to buy them in a local Cambodian store. They were about the size of a pea. You had to cook them a long time to get rid of the bitterness. I would buy the pea ones, the green striped golf ball ones, and the small japanese ones, put them in a pan in the oven with oil and roast at ~325°F until the little ones were sweet. Nice side dish.

          2. re: Melanie Wong

            Melanie,

            You can get the small green eggplants here in San Francisco at the Alemany Farmers' Market when they're in season -- check it out!

            Best,
            Deb H.

            1. re: Deb H.

              Thanks, Deb! I must confess I've NEVER been to the Alemany market.

          3. re: Jayask

            Be forewarned however that Ma-Kheua (Time Out's transliteration) refers to eggplant in all its many forms in Thai - although finding big purple eggplants for eggplant parmigiana is not that easy in Bangkok. But you can order a Ma-Kheua dish there and get what we call Japanese eggplant.

        2. I was led to believe that jungle curry was named as such since it doesn't contain coconut milk (and coconuts don't grow in jungles--not that I would know first hand). But the scarcity of meat in the jungle might make sense too. Does anyone know what makes a jungle curry so jungle-y?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Krista G.
            m
            Michael, M-Crew

            The waitress told me: "you eat it, then you go to the jungle and no animal bothers you..."