The beef in this brothy, spicy dish—no coconut milk here—will be quite tender and almost falling apart after eight hours, and completely infused with flavor. If you can find tiny green eggplants, use a big handful of those instead of the diced regular eggplant—their bitterness plays well with the slightly sweet broth.
In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the eggplant and green beans and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is golden and the vegetables are just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetables to the cooker along with the peppercorn sprigs, if using, the basil and the fish sauce. Add lime juice and more fish sauce to taste. Serve.
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