I’ve been on an Asian kick in cooking lately. Recently I’ve been trying a lot more Chinese food (which don’t require recipes so much as trial and error, and creativity in throwing different ingredients together) and trying to decipher all the different kinds of soy sauce and black vinegar in my local supermarket. I grew up eating Chinese food, so it had kind of lost its appeal for me as I explored more different cuisines. Now, however, living in China, I want to recreate some of the delicious dishes I get to eat all the time, especially since we may not be here much longer.
This eggplant dish is more Japanese than Chinese, though I skipped the bonito flakes and used Chinese dark soy sauce instead of shoyu – just because that was easier to find for me. It’s inspired by a recipe I found on KyotoFoodie.com, a site I’ve been just a little bit obsessed over recently as we plan our summer trip to Japan.
This is a really easy dish that would be perfect as an appetizer or a side dish. One of these days I want to cook a really lavish Japanese meal, with lots of different dishes, but I’ve got a lot of experimenting to do before I can pull that off.
Basically, you grill the eggplants, whole, on a barbecue or under the broiler, and when they are tender you let them cool and then cut them in half. On each half of the cooked eggplant you sprinkle some finely grated ginger (if you don’t like raw ginger you’ll want to grate it VERY finely with a Microplane), drizzle it with soy sauce, and then pile on freshly chopped spring onion.
To eat it, I cut the eggplant flesh diagonally all along the length of the vegetable, but not cutting through the skin, so you could lift out the pieces of eggplant with your chopsticks, leaving a little boat of skin behind. I loved the mixture of flavors – the savory soy sauce, slight bite of ginger, and fresh spring onion gave just the right tang to the eggplant, which became almost sweet as it roasted. This will definitely be one of my favorite (and easiest) ways to cook eggplant in the future.
Japanese Style Grilled Eggplant
Adapted from KyotoFoodie
4 Japanese eggplants
2 spring onions, chopped
a one-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
dark soy sauce
Note: Dark soy sauce is less salty than normal soy sauce, and almost thick and syrupy. You could substitute Japanese soy sauce (shoyu) or regular soy sauce, though start with a light touch and add more as needed.
Score the skin of the eggplants lengthwise so they don’t explode as they roast.
Place the eggplants under the broiler and broil for about 10 minutes on high, turning midway through, until skin is charred and wrinkled (if the skin wrinkles up when you pull them out of the broiler, they’re ready. You want them tender but still firm, not mush). Alternatively grill them on a barbecue on medium high heat.
When eggplants are ready, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, at least half an hour. Slice eggplants in half. On each half, sprinkle on some ginger, then drizzle soy sauce over the eggplants and top with chopped spring onions. Enjoy!