Japan Eats

Recipe: Agedashi nasu

Agedashi nasu may look harmless enough, but each slice of eggplant comes packed with flavor.

A variation on the popular agedashi dofu, the principal ingredient in agedashi nasu is eggplant. In some ways, using eggplant is preferable to tofu as it soaks up much of the dashi’s flavor. For those wanting to experiment further, try preparing mochi (rice cakes) or satoimo (taro root) in this way.

This dish is a good example of aburanuki, a technique by which hot water is poured on the ingredients in order to remove excess oil.

Various kinds of garnish will suit the dish. Select your favorite among grated ginger, dried bonito flakes, thinly sliced miyoga or chopped green onion.

Agedashi nasu

Agedashi nasu: serve alongside somen or udon noodles.

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

  • 170 – 180 g eggplant
  • 100 ml of dashi soup
  • 1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger (grated)
  • 200 ml of boiled water

Method

First prepare the dashi-based stock. Mix the dashi soup, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a pot and warm it on a low heat.

Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan, filling to a depth of roughly 3 cm. Place the pan on a medium heat.

Remove the calyx from the eggplant and cut it into half lengths.

Place each half on a cutting board skin up and slice the skin diagonally at 2 mm intervals. Each slit should be about the half thickness of the eggplant.

Now to quickly deep-fry the eggplant. Make sure that the oil temperature is 179 – 180℃. Remove the moisture from the eggplant with a paper towel then deep fry skin down for 1 minute. Turn over and cook the other side for the same length of time.

Once cooked, carefully remove the oil by draining the eggplant on a metal rack. Place all of the pieces in a colander and pour 1 cup of the hot water over the eggplant to rinse away any remaining oil.

While they are still warm, place the slices of eggplant into a serving dish and drizzle on the dashi stock until it makes a pool around the vegetable. Garnish with the grated ginger and serve.

Recipe: Deep fried eggplant with sweet chilli sauce

This Thai style appetizer balances sweet, sour and spicy.

As the weather becomes warmer, I find myself preparing Southeast Asian dishes. Deep fried eggplant with sweet chilli sauce is a favorite.

A note on the preparation: the pieces of eggplant will be smaller when they are cooked, so its worth cutting them into pieces slightly larger than bite-size.

Deep fried eggplant with sweet chili sauce

Deep fried eggplant with sweet chili sauce

Ingredients

  • 400 g eggplant
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint

Method

First prepare the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl – mix the sweet chili sauce, lemon juice and nam pla together.

Next, heat approximately 3 cm of vegetable oil in a deep fryer to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the eggplant diagonally and immediately deep fry the pieces for about 1 minute without batter. Note that if the temperature of the oil is too low, the eggplant will absorb too much of the oil. When they have browned and are cooked right through (use a skewer to check) fish them out of the oil and drain on a tray.

Add the eggplant to the bowl containing the sauce. Stir so that the eggplant is fully coated. Cool in the fridge for roughly 15 – 20 minutes.

Finally add 2 tablespoons of mint and mix well. Be sure to let the eggplant cool down first or you risk changing the mint’s color and aroma.

Serve.