Aaron Bludorn, Union Square Market, NYC, Voyage to Japan & Eggplant

Posted on Oct 9, 2017 in Hiroko's Blog

What excites me about Chef Aaron Bludorn is that he comes to Union Square Market, NYC, four times each week and has been doing this for five years! No matter how late he leaves his restaurant the night before he heads to the market in the early morning. I have been a frequent shopper at the Union Square Market in the past 15 years. Early in the morning Aaron and I may have rubbed shoulders, and eyed the same produce or even stepped on each other’s feet. But we did not know each other until recently.

Thanks to Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg I was introduced to Executive Chef Aaron Bludorn of Café Boulud. And the most important news is that together we are going to do the collaborative dinner event at Café Boulud on Tuesday, October 17th. The event is called ‘Voyage to Japan’. We have created an exciting menu for this amazing and memorable dining experience.  Please do join us if you can!


For Aaron the Green Market is like a candy store for kids. He spots certain produce with his wide open eyes, touches and feels them by hand, smells them and selects them for his operation. His creations at Café Boulud are absolutely Green Market-driven.

As fervent advocates of seasonal produce we are incorporating prime season vegetables here and there in our “Voyage to Japan” menu. Eggplant is one of them. Fall eggplant tastes best now, even better than those available in summer. The texture becomes creamier when it is cooked. One of our hors d’oeuvre is Agenasu no Nibitashi. We deep-fry thin, long and dark purple skinned Japanese eggplant, de-oil it and marinate it in a happo-dashi overnight. We will serve the eggplant garnished with little sauce and some ikura (salmon roe). The eggplant is heavenly creamy and naturally sweet.

There is another eggplant dish which I often prepare in the fall and I want to share it with you. It is grilled eggplant, Yakinasu. If you are accustomed to eat eggplant loaded with oil and cheese, Yakinasu will change your ideas on how to prepare and enjoy eggplant. No oil. No cheese. Your taste buds are totally immersed in the true taste of eggplant.

Watch the video on Instagram (@hirokoshimbo). I am going to post three Yakinasu technique videos this Thursday, 12th. On my next blog I will post the recipe.

Before ending this piece devoted to eggplant, let me share this eggplant story from Japan. I still remember my mother repeating it hundred times during the autumn season. This piece is an excerpt from my book The Japanese Kitchen.

Though it is available year-round in Japan, Japanese eggplant tastes the best in autumn, when the flesh becomes even less seedy, much creamier, and milder in flavor. There is an old saying in Japan, “Do not treat your daughter-in-law to delicious autumn eggplant (Aki nasu wa yome ni kuwasuna!)”. Some people say this shows the ill nature of mothers-in-laws, who think that autumn eggplant is too good for their daughters-in-law. Another, less harsh interpretation is that giving a daughter-in-law a seedless eggplant is bad luck – it might keep her from getting pregnant. Oh, well…times have changed even in Japan; I wonder how many mothers are handing down this story to their daughters? hirokoshimbo