Eggplant Dishes: Ideal for Summertime
with Elizabeth Andoh
August is eggplant month.
Called nasu in Japanese, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The little miniature ones (ko-nasu) are sweet and wonderful: the large ones (bei-nasu) are fleshy and filling.
The “regular” eggplants are versatile enough to be grilled, stewed, steamed, fried or floated in soup. Today’s recipes are for grilled, chilled eggplant and for sesame-sauced eggplant — either would make a fine side dish for summer.
YAKI NASU (grilled eggplant)
- 4 medium eggplants
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
- 2 tablespoons shoyu
- 1/4 cup katsuo bushi flakes
1. Skewer each eggplant, lengthwise, on a long metal skewer. Grill the eggplants over direct heat (gas range or barbeque), turning frequently until the skin is charred. Remove from the skewers and plunge the eggplants in ice water.
2. With a dull knife, scrape off the charred skins, leaving the stem piece intact. The pulp should be a greenish golden color; moist and tender. Drain and dry the skinned eggplants before chilling for 10-15 minutes.
3. Prepare lemon-joyu sauce by combining the lemon and shoyu. Pour a little over the grilled nasu.
4. Garnish with a few katsuo bushi flakes.
NASU NO RIKKYU NI (miso and sesame sauced eggplant)
- 4 medium (or 8 miniature) eggplants
- 1/4 cup dashi
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Sendai miso
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (white)
1. Remove the stem portions of the eggplants and slice them into bite-sizes.
2. Saute the eggplant pieces in a little salad oil, until they are translucent but still firm.
3. Add the dashi and simmer, over very low heat without stirring, until the liquid is nearly gone.
4. Make neri-miso from the Sendai miso, sugar and sake by combining them in a saucepan and heating thru until the sugar is dissolved. Thus, a thick, paste-like sauce.
5. Dry roast the sesame seeds and grind them in a suribachi (mortar and pestle) or cut them with a knife until all the seeds have been cracked.
6. Add the neri-miso to the eggplants and stir carefully to coat them. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle half the ground sesame over the eggplants and toss.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature and garnish with the remaining ground sesame.