Different regions have different specialties. In the case of eggplants, Japanese eggplants have their unique appearance and taste.
They are quite different from an ordinary eggplant, in color, look, and flavor. Contrary to the standard teardrop-shaped eggplant, these are cylindrical.
There are many ways to get a great dish out of an eggplant. Japanese have developed multiple ways to cook it.
It can be fried, boiled, roasted, steamed, or grilled. With such versatility, it all depends on an individual’s personal preference. Such flexibility is ideal for both vegetarians and vegans.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 How to make Japanese Eggplant
- 2 Japanese Miso Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku) recipe
- 3 What’s the origin of Miso Eggplant?
- 4 Miso Eggplant: Cooking Tips
- 5 Miso Eggplant: Nutritional Information
- 6 What to Serve with Miso Eggplant?
- 7 Grilled Eggplant Recipe
- 8 Pickled Eggplant Recipe
- 9 Stir-Fried Eggplant Recipe
- 10 Vegan Eggplant Recipe
- 11 Nutritional Contents of Japanese Eggplant
- 12 Difference between Regular, Chinese and Japanese Eggplants
How to make Japanese Eggplant
Eggplant can be enjoyed in multiple forms. Because you can use so many different cooking methods, each Japanese region and culture has its way of making it.
Since it is easily available and has such great taste, it is liked by almost everyone. It has very low-fat content so it’s always a part of people’s dietary plans.
In this section, I’ll talk about the most popular and in-demand eggplant recipes.
Here’s Diana on how to salt the eggplant before using them which can get them to be much less mushy and more crisp:
Japanese Miso Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku) recipe
- 6 regular sized Japanese eggplants weighing around 700 grams
- 1 small onion sliced
- ½ cup miso paste Soybean paste
- 4 tsp ginger minced
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sake
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven at 230°Celsius (450°Fahrenheit) which will take about 20 minutes.
- Vertically slice the eggplants and place them on a tray with butter parchment paper in between. Make a few knife carvings on the inside to add a cubicle design pattern (like in Diana's video).
- Brush olive or vegetable oil on the sliced side and add salt and pepper according to taste.
- Bake it for about twenty minutes or until the center gets soft and creamy and the outer peel turns dark.
- In the meantime, make a mixture of Miso paste, ginger, sesame oil, mirin, sugar, and sake.
- Spread this miso mixture on the eggplants in a way that the sliced flesh part is filled with the paste.
- Broil it on the grill of the oven for another five minutes.
- Garnish it with sesame seeds, salt and, pepper and serve right away.
- That's it! Easy!
I love this recipe because you don’t need a whole lot of ingredients. You want to make sure you’ve got some fresh eggplant ready.
I recommend getting American Eggplant because this variety is usually bigger and has thick meaty flesh, making for a juicy and creamy miso eggplant.
If you can find small Japanese eggplants, make 3, so there’s enough to satisfy your hunger. The smaller the eggplant, the less bitter it tastes. However, choose medium-sized, so it still has enough succulent flesh.
What’s the origin of Miso Eggplant?
The traditional miso eggplant recipe is called Nasu Dengaku, which translates to something along the lines of ‘fire-grilled eggplant.’
The word Dengaku is used to describe foods that have a miso glaze. This dish was popularized in Japan during the spring planting season, and it’s usually served alongside white rice as a side dish.
Japanese eggplants “Kome Nasu” are generally much smaller than American, European, or Australian eggplants. However, you can use any type of eggplant you can find at your grocery store or farmer’s market.
In Japan, the most popular way to make Nasu Dengaku is to grill the eggplants.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to make this dish without going outside and grilling. I know that not everyone feels like firing up the grill for a few eggplants.
That’s why today, I’m sharing a healthy low-fat version you can make by pan-frying and broiling.
This recipe is a healthy vegan dish you can cook up in less than 20 minutes.
All you need to do is pan fry the eggplant for a few minutes on each side, season with miso glaze, and then broil in the oven for a few more minutes.
Miso Eggplant: Cooking Tips
If you want the eggplant to be extra soft and tender, soak it in water for a few minutes.
This process also removes the tangy or astringent and often bitter taste. You can even remove some of the big seeds because they taste bitter.
Did you know that there are male and female eggplants?
The males are better for the recipe because they contain fewer seeds and have a sweeter taste.
To check for a male eggplant, look for slimmer, longer plants with a round indentation mark on the bottom.
The traditional recipe calls for red miso or awase, a mix of white and red miso. It has a strong savory flavor.
If you prefer a more subtle taste, use white miso, which also has a lower sodium content.
Miso Eggplant: Nutritional Information
Each serving of this miso eggplant has about 290 calories, 16 grams of fat, 27 grams of carbohydrates, and 94 mg of sodium.
Awase miso has high salt content, so substitute it with white miso if you can’t have too much salt.
Eggplant is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium.
By the way, this recipe is gluten-free and vegan.
What to Serve with Miso Eggplant?
As I mentioned before, it’s perfectly fine to have this dish as a main course, but some delicious pairings complement the savory miso flavors.
If you want an easy side dish, you can pair it with plain boiled white rice or jasmine rice.
Alternatively, you can serve the eggplant with curry or various chicken dishes, like baked crispy chicken or grilled chicken.
You can also try it with some fried tofu or konnyaku (konjac plant) if you prefer vegan food.
Don’t forget to drink a cup of genmai tea to soothe and aid digestion.
There are more additional toppings you can add besides sesame seeds and scallions.
You can garnish your eggplant with yummy toppings. To add a pop of color and flavor, add grated ginger, micro herbs, and even spicy sauces.
It’s up to you to add flavors you like, but the traditional recipe calls for simple sesame and spring onion/scallion topping.
Now, it’s time to fire up the pan and get that miso paste bubbling.
If you like vegetable dishes, you could check out my Teppanyaki recipe for stir-fried vegetables here which could be a great side for the larger eggplants.
Roasted Eggplant Recipe
Roasted eggplant serves both as a full course meal and a side dish. For a healthy and beneficial lifestyle, it can be enjoyed with Miso rice.
However, as a side dish, you can eat it with chicken or salmon with different kinds of sauces such as soy, etc.
You have to roast the eggplants until the center melts. Then you can garnish them with sesame seeds to give it a complete look. This recipe serves four to six individuals.
- Eight hundred grams of Eggplants sliced from the center
- 1 small cup of Chopped Scallion or Onion
- Two tablespoons of Vinegar
- One teaspoon of Sesame Seeds
- One small piece of crushed ginger
- One cup of raw Miso or Miso Paste
- Two tablespoons of Sesame Oil
- Two tablespoons of Olive Oil
- Heat the oven at 230°Celsius (450°Fahrenheit), which takes about 20 minutes while you prepare the rest.
- Set up the sliced Eggplants on the baking tray with the butter or parchment paper in between.
- Brush olive oil all over the eggplants until they give a shiny look. Then put the tray in the oven.
- Bake the eggplants for about 30 minutes or until they give a completely golden look.
- After baking, take the tray out and let it cool.
- Meanwhile, take a medium-sized bowl and add vinegar, water, sesame oil, and miso paste in it. Mix it well until it takes the form of a paste.
- Spread this paste or mixture on each eggplant slice and heat it in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or until the eggplant sides start to shrink.
- Finally, sprinkle in some raw or toasted sesame seeds and scallions/onions on top and serve it in a platter.
Note: Don’t go overboard when brushing the oil on your eggplants and make sure to flip the eggplants in between baking, to cook them completely.
Grilled Eggplant Recipe
Japanese eggplants can be easily grilled. Since they are much softer and smoother than regular eggplant, their cooked filling gives a mushy effect.
Grilled eggplants can be enjoyed with tahini sauce to get a creamy texture, or they can be eaten with soy sauce to get a traditional Japanese flavor.
A small quantity of it can act as an appetizer with a heavy meal but grilled eggplant with Miso (full recipe here!) rice can itself be used as a three-course meal.
It’s the sauces that add to the flavor of the grilled eggplant. A detailed list of all the ingredients, for a serving of two people, is given below:
- Four regular sized Japanese Eggplants (Weighing almost 700 grams in total)
- Three tablespoons of Sesame Seeds
- Three teaspoons of Olive Oil
- Three teaspoons of Soy SauceTwo tablespoons of squeezed Lemon Juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Basil Leaves to garnish
- Cut the eggplants vertically from the center.
- Heat the grill up with coal or gas.
- In the meantime, place the sliced eggplants on a big and narrow tray and sprinkle a little salt and pepper to taste. Also, brush olive oil on the sliced side. Leave it like that for two to three minutes.
- Place the eggplants on the grill. Make sure that the sliced side is facing downwards toward the heat source. Complement the eggplants with lemon juice and olive oil at regular intervals to give them a juicy essence and make sure they don’t get burned. Grill it for about five minutes.
- Keep flipping them until they are completely scorched.
- After grilling, garnish it with basil leaves, sesame seeds, and soy sauce.
Note: The amount of oil you’ll need can vary depending on how long you’ll be grilling. Give eggplants a design with a knife to get a grilled look. Eggplants contain a lot of moisture but you can use salt to dry it out first so it’ll be a little less mushy and moist.
Pickled Eggplant Recipe
Eggplant Pickles are very strong in taste and are often used as a side dish with three-course meals. They add an exciting flavor to the food and that’s why native Japanese, as well as a lot of foreigners, love these!
This recipe is a simple guide to prepare delicious homemade Japanese style pickled eggplant that can brighten up any dish because of their taste and texture.
Here’s a detailed list of all the ingredients required.
- Six to eight regular-sized Japanese Eggplants (Around one kilogram)
- Half jar of Olive Oil to cover
- One tablespoon of Japanese Cayenne Pepper Powder
- Three teaspoons of salt
- Simmer or Poach eggplants in boiling water until they get soft. It usually takes around five to ten minutes.
- Trim the top and bottom edges of eggplants so that only the middle part is used for the pickles.
- Mix salt and cayenne powder along with a little oil to give it a pasty texture and apply that to each eggplant. Completely cover the eggplant with the mixture.
- Put the eggplants in a container and leave it like that for about half a day. After this time, remove the excess salted water.
- Place pickles lengthwise in a jar and add olive oil. Make sure that the pickles are completely dipped in the oil.
- Close the lid and refrigerate it for a complete week.
- After a week enjoy it as a side with other dishes for a striking and appetizing dish.
Note: Choose a regular or big sized jar in which the eggplant quantity can fit along with oil. Giving cayenne-salted eggplants more time will help the mixture to get into the eggplants core completely, adding a full flavor to the center.
For maintaining freshness, keep them out of hot temperatures.
Stir-Fried Eggplant Recipe
The stir-frying technique is used as an economical way of quickly preparing a meal. Scientifically speaking, food prepared using stir-frying is much healthier than grilling or boiling.
Even though the food preparation takes less time, it’s a great way to give the Japanese Eggplants an overall sweet and still moist flavor and great texture.
Also, you need much less oil than you would have using other methods of cooking, so it’s also healthier.
There are many ways of stir-frying eggplants. They can be cooked with ginger, cucumber, garlic, etc. and the spice level can be adjusted. Consume it with rice or enjoy them separately or as a side dish to your meal.
- Six medium-sized Sliced Japanese Eggplants (Weighing around one kilogram)
- One Sliced Green Onion
- Three tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
- One tablespoon of Sesame Oil
- One tablespoon of Soy Sauce
- Four tablespoons of minced Garlic
- Two tablespoons of Ginger
- One tablespoon of Cornstarch
- One tablespoon of Salt
- Trim the edges of the eggplants, slice it vertically from the center then cut it further in small slices of 1/4th of an inch.
- Add eggplant slices in a colander and add a pinch of salt. Mix it well and then leave it for a few minutes. Rinse out the salted water from the slices in the end.
- Take a bowl and put the eggplant slices in it. Add cornstarch in a way that each slice is completely coated.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and put the eggplant slices in it. Stir them gently for fifteen minutes until they turn into a golden brown color. This will take about four to six minutes. Repeat this step until all the eggplant slices are completely done.
- Clean the pan completely and add sesame oil. Heat it for a few seconds and then add garlic and ginger. Cook it for two to three minutes.
- Once again, add fried eggplants in it.
- Add soy sauce and green onions. Stir it for a few seconds to mix it up.
- Take it out onto a serving dish and garnish with sesame seeds.
Note: Choose a pan size in which all the above-mentioned ingredients can fit without overlapping. Adding fried eggplants again to the cooked garlic and ginger adds a new flavor and essence to the eggplants.
Vegan Eggplant Recipe
An eggplant platter can be a dish of choice for vegans and vegetarians. There are a huge number of vegan eggplant recipes.
It can be eaten with rice, noodles, beans, grains, etc. Because of its protein enrichment capabilities, it can act as a genuine meat replacement.
The following is a recipe to prepare marinated eggplants that can be enjoyed in many flavors i.e. spicy, sweet, etc.
This recipe serves four to six people. It contains the following ingredients:
- Five to seven Medium-sized Japanese Eggplants (Weighing around One Kilogram)
- Two tablespoons of Ginger
- Three tablespoons of Soy Sauce
- One sliced Green Onion
- One tablespoon of Mirin
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Two tablespoons of minced Garlic
- One tablespoon of Sesame Oil
- Two tablespoons of Sugar
- Two tablespoons of Vinegar
- Three tablespoons of Sake
- Two teaspoons of Sesame Seeds
Directions to follow:
- Slice the eggplants vertically from the center. Cut them further into little square bite-sized pieces.
- Take a medium-sized bowl and add soy sauce, vinegar, sake, sugar, and mirin. Blend it until the sugar grains start to disappear.
- Put the blended mixture of sauce on the eggplant chunks. Do this several times until the pieces are completely layered. Leave the coated pieces for a few minutes.
- Heat up the pan by adding sesame oil. Now, put the slices in the pan. Cover it with a lid and let it cook at a medium heat level. Flip and add some extra mixed sauce after a few minutes.
- Take the eggplants chunks out when they turn fully golden brown.
- Put it in a big dish and garnish it with green onions and sesame seeds.
- Serve right away as gravy with rice or as a side dish.
Note: Liquid sugar or Sugar powder can be used for quick recipes. Keep adding the marinated sauce while cooking to completely coat each piece.
Nutritional Contents of Japanese Eggplant
The nutritional contents of Japanese eggplant are also good to know:
- Total Calories for 230 grams of serving: 81
- 0.5 grams of Fat
- 2.3 milligrams of Sodium
- 283 milligrams of Potassium
- 20 grams of Carbohydrates
- 1.9 grams of Protein
Difference between Regular, Chinese and Japanese Eggplants
The standard eggplant is mainly grown in the USA and Italy, both places having the right soil composition for the fruitful growth of eggplants.
As weird as it may sound, they are a fruit and came from the nightshade family.
They all have nicotine in them and actually they have the largest amount found in any conventional vegetable. The regular eggplants are generally rounder than Japanese eggplants, while both categories represent purplish or sometimes even dark blue hues.
They can be easily identified by their pale violet color and thick hues of blue on the lower end. The patterns on the body can depict the quality of a Chinese Eggplant.
They are sleek and cylindrical while being a little bit larger than their Japanese counterparts. This makes them apt for stir-fries and sautés.
The Japanese eggplant, contrary to the standard teardrop-shaped eggplant, is cylindrical. Its shape thus resembles that of the Chinese eggplant but the Japanese one is smaller and longer in size.
They have dark purple hues when it comes to color, but the top may turn blackish-blue if let in the sun for too long once it has become ripe.
They are easy to cook, hence they are preferred by fast-food restaurants to whip up a quick dish. They are excellent for grilling and broiling work, as they are not as mild as Chinese or regular eggplants.
They are usually served after being mixed with ginger, soy, and garlic as a delicacy in Japan.
Read on to learn more about these very tasty zucchini recipes as well which you can also grill and do a lot of stuff with to add them to your dinner repertoire.
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