Easy, Exciting (Grilled) Eggplant Extravaganza 1: Yakinasu

Do you like to grill?  Then next time, make sure to throw on several whole eggplants on while you are cooking your meat, veggies or seafood.

Why whole eggplants?

Because while you are grilling something else, they basically cook themselves and you can use them for hundreds of dishes, or eat as a side dish to eat with your BBQ.

Rather than huge globe eggplants, I prefer smaller and more slender Japanese, Italian or Chinese eggplants which cook much faster and are more versatile. As you see in the glimpse of what you could do with Eggplant curry recipe, there are so many dishes you can make with grilled eggplants; Japanese to Thai to Turkish and Italian.

How to make grilled eggplants:

  1. Poke several places with a folk or knife on eggplant skin.
  2. Grill at 400F or so until tender (Do not use oil). The skin should be charred. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin (and seeds if there’s a lot, especially in the globe eggplant). Or if hard to do so, use a spoon to scrape the flesh.  If preferred, cut into bite size pieces. Keep in a tight container in the fridge.

Note:

  • Alternatively, before you start grilling, you can beat or roll the eggplants on the counter.  Create a shallow incision around the calyx, and around the long side of the eggplants. It’s a bit cumbersome, but helps you peel the skin very easily.
  • In winter, you can do the same in the oven, toaster-oven or even right on gas stove.There’s a lot you can do with this.

Probably the easiest is to just eat it with your grilled food on the side. The smokiness of grilled eggplant is great even without any seasoning, yet when soaks up vinaigrette, it’s a wonderful summer treat.

Here’s the easiest and probably the most refreshing of all, a summer favorite of all Japanese households and restaurants around the world called Yaki-Nasu (simply meaning grilled eggplant.)  Every time I have some, it reminds me of how I survived the hot summer days in Tokyo with this (and cold somen noodles), and how I appreciate living in San Francisco Bay Area now, the place with year-round natural air-conditioning (even thought we don’t have one installed at home!)

Yaki-Nasu (Japanese Style Grilled Eggplant)

  • It’s the best to use the chilled grilled eggplant.  If you only have eggplants that’s hot off the grill, you can put them in a small bowl (metal is best), cover with aluminum foil, and put it in the freezer until cold.
  • Top with grated ginger and drizzle with soy based Japanese sauce, such as  soy sauce, thinned men-tsuyu (Japanese noodle soup base), ponzu, or just by itself.
  • Alternative garnishes: beside grated ginger, try shredded ao-shiso (green perilla), bonito flakes or toasted sesame seeds.

Enjoy!

We’ll cover more international recipes using grilled eggplants later this week.  Be sure to subscribe to “Secrets of Kitchen Wizard” from the 3 options on the top left (E-mail, RSS or Facebook NetworkedBlogs application), so you won’t miss any.

Ao Shiso (Green Perilla) plant on our vegitable garden

Ao Shiso (Green Perilla) plant in our vegetable garden

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