The secret to cooking the perfect Japanese eggplant lies in soaking the eggplants in subtly sweet flavoured dashi, but no one seems to tell you about this trick. Find out more about this secret and how to make delicious Japanese eggplant recipe not only nasu dengaku (miso glaze eggplant) . This post is sponsored by On the Umami company in Japan.
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What is Japanese eggplant recipe – Agebitashi?
Agebitashi is a Japanese cooking method which involves using fresh in-season ingredients, deep frying them in oil and then soaking them in seasoned dashi stock or sweet vinegar while they are hot. Japanese eggplants (Nasu) are a popular vegetable to make agebitashi which is called Nasu agebitashi. This is a savory yet subtly sweet umami flavoured dish that goes well with rice and any meat. You can top it with ginger, shiso leaves, grated daikon radish, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, or scallions.
You will love this Agebitashi
Because this Japanese side dish is easy and simple to make. I will guide you through it step by step.
It can be cooked in under 30 minutes, which makes it a perfect little dish to whip up when you’re short on time.
Freshly served Nasu agebitashi will melt in your mouth. The eggplant absorbs all the delicious flavors from the dashi broth.
This Japanese eggplant recipe can be made ahead and soaked in the dashi broth overnight. In this way, the eggplant absorbs even more of the tasty broth.
Japanese eggplants recipe Ingredients
Oil for deep frying
Dashi – I will discuss this further below with my recommendation
Mirin – if you don’t have this ingredient see Japanese substitution post here.
Ginger and shiso leaves for garnish
Why use Japanese eggplants for Agebitashi?
The reason Japanese eggplant (nasu) is used for agebitashi is that eggplant is said to be compatible with oil as oil disguises the astringent taste of eggplants. Also, the purple pigment of eggplant is anthocyanin-based pigment which dissolves easily in water. So when eggplants are cooked at 100°c or less such as simmering and boiling in water, it causes discolouration of the vegetable. Frying it at a high temperature will keep the beautiful purple colour.
Importance of Dashi for this recipe
This Japanese eggplant recipe is really simple. As the dish is so simple, using quality dashi is more important than ever. Eggplant does not have much flavour so the way to enjoy this dish is through the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the eggplants and the subtly sweet flavourful dashi broth packed with umami components.
Let me introduce my favourite go to dashi pack from “On the Umami“. On the Umami crafts a delicious and easy to use dashi pack bursting with the essence of umami that they have put at the forefront of their product. With their focus on the umami components of Japanese ingredients, they have created a dashi pack that elevates every dish and enriches the subtleties of Japanese culture and cooking. I often use dashi packs when cooking because it’s quick and easy but still full of flavour.
How to Make Agebitashi?
Make dashi mixture to soak the deep fried Japanese eggplant. I used “On the Umami” All rounder Dashi Pack (bonito and kelp).
Make Dashi stock : Pour 2 cups of water in a pot and bring it to boil. Place a bag of On the Umami into boiling water. Shake the bag about 5 times and simmer for a few minutes over medium heat. Remove the dashi pack, and use half of the dashi for this recipe.
Prepare the sauce for soaking the eggplants. Place the dashi, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp sugar into a saucepan and bring it to boil, turn the heat off when it boils. Set it aside in a container to use for soaking the eggplant.
Cut the eggplant : Japanese eggplant is small in size. If you can get it, you can cut it in half length wise, though I only find large eggplants here which are about 4 times bigger in Australia. If you are in the same situation, cut the eggplant to manageable pieces. Score the skin diagonal and soak in water for 10 minutes. Pat dry the eggplant with kitchen paper towel.
Deep fry the eggplant : Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat and deep fry the eggplant for a few minutes.
Soak : Place the deep fried eggplant in the prepared sauce. You can serve this warm or chilled. Chilled Agebitashi is also delicious.
Enjoy Japanese eggplant. Eggplant is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium.
Tips for Making Agebitashi
- Make sure each slice of eggplant is nicely coated in oil, otherwise the moisture will evaporate from the eggplant and result in discolouration and patchiness.
A : Yes. You need to substitute the dashi. Dashi can be made from kelp only (Kombu dashi) or use dashi made from shiitake mushroom or Umami dahi vegetable.
Japanese eggplant recipe “Agebitashi”
- 1 eggplant
- 1 cup dashi *1
- 3 tbsp soy sauce *2
- 2 tbsp mirin *3
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp grated ginger for garnigh optional
- 1 leaf green shiso leaf optional
- 3 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
- Place one cup of the dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring it to a boil and then turn the heat off and set aside.
Deep frying Eggplant
- Cut the tops off the eggplant then cut the eggplant in half lengthways.
- Score the eggplant skin diagonally in 0.2 inch (5mm) intervals.
- After scoring the skin cut the eggplant halves in half again lengthwise.
- Soak the cut eggplant pieces in water for 10 min.
- Heat enough oil to cover the pieces of eggplant in a deep frying pan.
- Pat dry any moisture from the eggplant pieces with a paper kitchen towel.
- Deep fry the eggplant pieces for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the eggplant pieces from the oil and put them onto paper kitchen towels layered on a wire rack.
- Soak the eggplant pieces in the prepared sauce in a container for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Garnish with grated ginger and chopped shiso leaf before serving.