This eggplant salad is quite different than the western eggplant salad with the big, cooked purplish eggplants. These eggplants are the raw Thai eggplant the size of a golf ball with white and green stripes. Yum Makua or (aka Sah Bahkua) is a popular northern dish.
Throughout the north, there are several variations of this dish. Some people prefer fresh chili; I like the flavor of dried roasted chili in this dish better. Some people like to add lemongrass; I find lemongrass overpowers other spices. Some recipe calls for shrimp paste, some for dried bean paste (a northern specialty) instead. Some sprinkle crushed crispy pork rind. Some add fried garlic on top.
I have tried a few and like this approach the best. It’s rather simple tasting where the flavor of this dish rests on the roasted garlic, shallot and pepper mixture. Of the 4 basic Thai flavors (sour, sweet, nutty/creamy and salty), salty is at play here. The kick of this dish is the contrast of spicy strong tasting pork mixture and the neutral raw taste of raw eggplant.