Once my darling, little nephew, Takahiro, nicknamed me “Nasu”, eggplant. I never got the reason from him “why?”. Takahiro has become a respectful, handsome 30 years old gentleman this May. Whenever I enjoy eggplant I remember his mischievous golden smile.
There are many great ways to enjoy eggplant in the Japanese way without oil. The most typical one is called “yaki-nasu”, grilled eggplant. The recipe of yaki-nasu is in The Sushi Experience, page 239. The photo of the yaki-nasu dish is shown here next to the pickled red radish and Japanese white turnip, and collard green, cucumber and kiwi juice. This was part of our dinner when NYC registered over 80 degree F. For yaki-nasu preparation you do not need to look for a Japanese eggplant, which sometimes mixed up with a long, faintly purplish Chinese eggplant. Find and use a small size, very fresh local American eggplant in the preparation. Holland eggplant also works very well. The tips of successful yaki-nasu preparation is first to make a very shallow cut through the skin where the frill is located; then, make 4 to 5 more very shallow cuts along the length of the eggplants. These cuts make peeling the skin easier. Cooking time of the eggplant varies greatly for its size/thickness and skin type (tender or tough). After cooking the eggplant for 2 to 3 minutes, touch the eggplant when it feels tender, it is done (you need to turn over the eggplant once). While peeling the skin, do not use the water. You can rinse your hands but not the eggplant. After cutting it into bite sized pieces, arrange them in individual serving bowls and cool it before serving. Garnish the eggplant with a small mound of freshly grated ginger with ginger juice and pour little sauce* over it. I will blog two more eggplant dishes.
* Place 1/4 cup mirin in a pot and bring it to a simmer. Add 1 1/4 cups dashi and bring it to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup shoyu and bring it to a simmer. ADD 1/2 cup of katsuobushi and turn off the heat. Cook the sauce and strain through a paper towel-lined strainer, discarding the katsuobushi.