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Japanese Style Grilled Eggplant

Japanese Eggplant 2

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.

Japanese Eggplant close

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.

Japanese Eggplant tall

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 Eggplant

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!

13 comments to Japanese Style Grilled Eggplant

  • I love this…simple and delicious. I always love Japanese food. They are always served in small portions, very well presented and delicious. Hope you learned more.

  • This is my kind of dish! Simple and tasty!

  • I love Japanese eggplant…so salty and smoky and delicious. Beautiful recipe!

  • Camilla

    Thanks guys! I do have a lot more Japanese and Chinese dishes coming up, so stay tuned!

  • Darlene

    wow that looks amazing, I always want to try new ways to eat eggplant

  • “may not be here much longer” awww!

    I LOVE eggplant! I think your blog is so impressive, Cam, I’m so in awe of your cooking AND your picture-taking skillz! hehe or wait, is that Chris taking the photos? Congrats, good job! Lookin forward to being in the same hemisphere with you for a while, even if just for a bit, lol. Teleporting really SHOULD exist! Tell Chris to get on that! :)

  • I had an appetizer at a sushi place very similar to this, but the sauce was sweet. Any ideas? I have an eggplant in my fridge right now and I’m so making this!

  • Camilla

    In my (admittedly limited) experience, Japanese cuisine often uses sweet soy sauce. You might try experimenting with adding a small amount of mirin (sweet rice wine) to your soy sauce, or some sake and sugar/honey to sweeten the sauce. Let me know how it goes!

  • [...] Japanese Style Grilled Eggplant [...]

  • Lisa

    This looks like it has something else stuffed inside, like bulgar or rice?

  • Camilla

    nope, that might be the minced garlic and ginger you’re seeing.

  • Yum – this looks delicious. I have been trying to eat more eggplant lately – so this is next!

  • Yummmm! Bought some eggplants lately and wanted to see how i can cook it with shoyu..! Minced ginger on eggplant..hmmm..will try this!