Friday, July 24, 2009

Chilled Eggplant

Let's forget about elections for a while and focus on what's really important. Ritsuko makes chilled eggplant as a side dish now and again, and it's one of my favourites. The cool, salty dish is especially welcome in summer, and it's really easy to make.

Ingredients

Here's the ingredients: One eggplant, some dashi (light Japanese-style soup stock), soy sauce, sugar and mirin (cooking sake).


Slicing

Cut away the stalk and slice the eggplant lengthwise. Make shallow crosswise cuts in the skin side of each half, about a centimeter apart. Be careful not to cut too deep.


Fry

Fry up the eggplant quickly on both sides. You don't want to cook it, but just brown the surface a bit. It adds to the flavour and it makes the eggplant hold together better.


Boil

Prepare the dashi and boil it up. You'll want around 20cl or so. Put the eggplants cut side down in a small pot just big enough to hold them. Pour over the hot dashi. Not too much; you want the top half of the eggplant uncovered. Then add about 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 tablespoon each of mirin and soy sauce. You want the stock to be flavourful but not thick. Bring it up to a slow boil.


Simmer

Simmer the eggplants for about five-ten minutes or so. Turn them over a couple of times - be careful; they're soft - so both sides get to simmer and soak in the liquid. They're done when they're really soft and the stock has reduced a bit. Turn off the heat and let them cool down under a lid.


Done

Carefully move the eggplants into a dish and pour over a bit of the stock. Put the dish in the refrigerator and let chill for a couple of hours. You eat them as-is, straight from the fridge so they're still cool. And they're delicious!

3 comments:

Simon said...

I had an eggplant, but didn't know what to do with it, so I tried your recipe. The Swedish stock wasn't good enough though, but it turned out OK anyway. I'll try and bring home some stock from Asian food stores, but sometimes they only have Maggi or Knorr...

Thanks for the inspiration.

Janne Morén said...

No, as you noticed, typical stock or broth doesn't really work as a substitute for dashi. It's much too heavy and salty. Dashi is much lighter in color and taste and usually contains no salt at all; you get the saltiness from the soy sauce.

Last time I looked for instant dashi in Sweden (this was admittedly a few years ago before the sushi boom) it was hideously expensive. Dashi often comes in a box full of portion packets of powder. In the stores I looked for it, they sold individual packets for about the same price a whole boxful goes for here.

One easy way to make dashi (not the most common type, though) is to buy some dried mushrooms, then soak one or two in hot water for half an hour or so. The resulting light brown liquid works ok as dashi; it's also a good alternative if you're vegetarian.

Emma said...

I've tried your recipe now! It turned out great, thanks for the inspiration.

We sampled some of it just as it was (nice), and I made a pasta dish with the eggplant and some roasted peppers and tomatoes. Now I'm looking for some new ideas to be a bit more brave... You mentioned that you sometimes serve the eggplant as a side, what other dishes do you team it up with?