Spicy Japanese Eggplant

One day in Tokyo, I was at a lunch made by the women in this crazy Japanese women’s club I belong to, where each member had made one dish to contribute (and they all looked like they had been made by professional chefs and styled by photo stylists aieeee!) When I tasted the eggplant dish, though, I moaned with delight and said, “OMG who made this? It is SO GOOD.” It just so happened that the woman from a very fancy family seated next to me had brought it, and she kindly agreed to share the recipe. I share it now with you!

Spicy Japanese Eggplant

Serves 4

Ingredients for sauce:

2 T. (30g) zaasai pickles*

1 clove garlic, minced

1 generous knob ginger, grated or minced

3 green onions (just the light green parts), minced

3 T. (45ml) soy sauce

1½ T. (37ml) rice vinegar

1½ t. (7ml) sesame oil

2 t. (8g) sugar

1-2 t. (5-10g) chili bean sauce (sold in Asian markets or online as tobanjan or doubanjiang)**

Here are the minced ingredients: ginger, garlic, zasai pickles, green onions. The food processor is your friend!

Rinse zaasai pickles and mince, then put them in a colander and rinse thoroughly with hot water to remove excess salt. Drain.

Mix the zaasai with the rest of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Eggplant preparation: 

6 long Japanese eggplants (600g)

Trim stems off eggplant and cut half lengthwise, then lengthwise in three wedges per half. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes to remove harshness. Pat dry and deep fry in salad oil 320°-340°F (160°-170°C). Put them into the sauce while they are still hot.

Delicious warm or at room temperature.

*Zaasai pickles are spicy pickled mustard stems. If you’re not near an Asian market, you can get them online. The brand I found was Momoya.

**So, be sure you get CHILI-BEAN sauce, not one of the many other kinds of Chinese chili sauces. Those chili-garlic and black bean-chili and other treacherous imposters are just there to fool you.

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Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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