First impressions can be important. The first time I ate eggplant, the taste was bitter and I was flossing strings out of my teeth for days. I was not just unimpressed. I was thoroughly disgusted.
Suzen’s approach to changing my attitude is, well, direct. “Try this. You’ll like it.”
Before me was a plate with chicken as the centerpiece with a side of vegetable-dotted rice and this eggplant with its most shiny glaze, exuding the aroma of a good Japanese restaurant.
I touched the eggplant with my fork.
“In your mouth,” Suzen encouraged me. She did not say it menacingly but I knew I had to hustle.
I took a bite. A second. Good flavor, that Japanesey blend of sweet and sour. No strings. And the eggplant was soft but not mushy. I liked it. No, I actually enjoyed it.
If only this had been my first encounter with eggplant, I began to think. So much eggplant consumption to catch up on. Then I realized that eggplant deficit would be quickly healed: Suzen has this on her summer menu for team building events at Cooking by the Book and I’ll have multiple opportunities to reach my lifetime eggplant quota.
If you try this recipe, you’ll find your eggplant views improved if not revolutionized. This side dish will pair with any protein: chicken, fish, beef … You can, of course, play with the ingredients here. Different styles of mirin or soy sauce can generate alternative flavor profiles. There are chopped chives here, but scallions will work equally well. And you can sprinkle additional herbs on top.
This is not a “quick” recipe, say one for a weekday night. There is the usual salting and draining of the eggplant which will take you an hour. If you have the time, that’s fortunate. But more likely this is a Saturday or Sunday treat. The actual cooking and prep time is very short, so you can do this in, say, the halftime of a World Cup Event.
I want to say “Go Brazil” now but there was that German debacle on Tuesday. The Brazilian team looked dead on their feet. Not enough vegetables. They need eggplant.
Spicy Glazed Eggplant
Yield: serves 6
- 2+ pounds Asian eggplants (about 4), trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut diagonally into 1 to 2-inch strips [or, size and shape of your preference]
- 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon grated peeled ginger (use a Microplane grater if you have one)
- ⅛ teaspoon Japanese seven-spice powder ("shichimi togarashi) or to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt and drain in a colander, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes.
Rinse eggplant under cold water and dry well, pressing out any excess moisture.
Stir together mirin, soy sauce, ginger, and seven-spice powder.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, sauté eggplant until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in mirin mixture and cook, gently stirring and turning frequently, until the sauce becomes a glaze and eggplant is browned and tender, about 1 minute.
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑2500