Monday, February 22, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 14 - Japanese - Japanese Eggplant Slices

Like most of the challenge participants, I don't have a Japanese cookbook either, and a few indexes of a few books didn't yield a lot of options. I turned to Stephanie Alexander's, The Cook's Companion, given it's claim of the "complete book". It didn't let me down, and produced a recipe for Japanese Eggplant Slices.

I prepared this for my lunch on Saturday, and didn't offer to share it as I was sure the offer would be greeted with a resounding "blech!". According to him, eggplant is not your friend. 

 Look how friendly they are!

I'm not convinced this can stand alone as a dish, however it would make a great starter, or part of a Japanese style buffet. 

The steps are basic, and the ingredients minimal - if I hadn't followed the direction to salt and stand the eggplant slices it would have been really quick too. The technique requires you to spread the flavoured chicken paste on to the eggplant and fry it in a pan - I was amazed, but it stayed put! I was paranoid about flipping it over and splashing it everywhere, so it ended up a little overcooked.

I'd probably put ginger and spring onions into the chicken paste next time I make it, as well as sprinkled over the top, just for a little added flavour - some garlic wouldn't go astray either - mmm, stinky garlic, my favourite. It was a teriyaki style flavour, but I like my teriyaki garlicky.

Here's a tip for fresh ginger - freeze the whole knob, skin on, and grate however much you need straight from the freezer. I find there's not even a need to peel it, provided you've washed it before you've frozen it. I never use a whole knob before they go rotten, so this means I always have fresh ginger, with no waste.

As far as quantities go for this, I used half of the amount of eggplant specified for the chicken listed, I think if you don't do this it will be fairly bland. I like eggplant as much as the next girl, but with such a small amount of chicken suggested per slice you'd really be wasting your time and might as well just fry plain eggplant.

I'll give you the quantities I used.

Japanese Eggplant Slices - The Cook's Companion, Stephanie Alexander

100g chicken mince
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (or mirin seasoning)
fresh ginger, grated for sprinkling
1 spring onion, finely sliced for sprinkling
olive oil for frying
1 eggplant, sliced into 2cm thick rounds

Score the eggplant on one side, twice in each direction. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the chicken, soy sauce and mirin in a food processor, until a paste forms, chicken breasts were on sale, so I threw in a whole breast, and minced it in the food processor. At this point I'd add in a chopped spring onion, some garlic and a bit of ginger.

At this point it doesn't look so delicious

Rinse and dry the eggplant rounds well.

Spread the chicken paste on the scored side of the eggplant, and fry, chicken side down, for about 3 minutes on medium heat in plenty of olive oil. Turn, and cook for a further 3 minutes on the other side. 

Serve sprinkled with grated ginger and chopped spring onion.

There you go. That's something by Kate.


  1. It's funny how completely the pre-cooked eggplant slices look like eggplant topped with miso! I must admit I'm not a huge fan of eggplant, but I'm thinking the flavours of mirin and soy might get me over the hump, so to speak :P

  2. I adore eggplant, but almost always manage to spike myself on the little thorns around the stem. Someone once told me the salting was to remove bitterness, and isn't really necessary in current varieties. Mind you, I've also been told it reduces the amount of oil the eggplant will absorb, which would definitely make it worth doing. Nice recipe Kate, thank you! :)

  3. Yes, I freeze my ginger too! And I love eggplant - eggplant is everyone's friend! This recipe looks great and I think it would be even better with garlic, as you suggested.

  4. Hannah, make sure you add garlic - I really feel like it's missing something, and that's probably it. Otherwise, you still might not like eggplant!

    Celia, I've heard about salting for bitterness, but not about the oil absorption. It must be true, because despite using plenty of oil to fry them, the end dish wasn't oily.

    Agnes, isn't it amazing what you can freeze? Egg whites, yolks, ginger - I also like to freeze kaffir lime leaves when I come across them. Any other freezer tips?

  5. Totally with you on the egg whites and kaffir lime leaves. I also freeze bananas and chilis. :)

  6. Awesome recipe! I wouldn't have thought to do this to eggplant (which I love) so now you've got me thinking :)

    Also, thanks for the ginger tip, it's such a good one. I'm off downstairs to stick my knob in the freezer. Errmmm..... you know what I mean!

  7. Great recipe, eggplant is one of my fav veggies. Thanks for the ginger tip, I've been keeping ginger in the fridge but it still shrivels quickly, so now I know to freeze!


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