Japanese Eggplant Recipes

Japanese Eggplant Recipes

Explore the delectable taste of Japanese eggplant through our finest recipes collection! Some beloved choices among our fans are soy-glazed eggplant rice bowls, grilled eggplant with miso glaze, Japanese Eggplant Tempura, and many other delightful options.

When it comes to vegetables that truly ignite my enthusiasm, none other than the impressive Japanese eggplants come to mind! However, like many individuals, I didn’t develop a taste for this nightshade until later in adulthood, when I discovered and learned to appreciate its numerous remarkable qualities.

On their own, Japanese eggplants may not possess a strong flavor, but with the right cooking techniques and seasoning, they have the remarkable ability to absorb a wide range of flavors. Their unique combination of sturdiness and sponginess sets them apart. The meaty texture makes them an excellent choice for vegan and vegetarian recipes. This is what I find delightful about incorporating Japanese eggplants in cooking.

In this article, we will explore the world of Japanese eggplant recipes, from traditional Japanese dishes to modern fusion creations. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or simply looking to add more variety to your meals, Japanese eggplant can be a delightful addition to your kitchen.

Health benefits of Japanese eggplant

Japanese eggplant, also known as aubergine, offers a range of health benefits that make it a valuable addition to your diet. This nutrient-dense vegetable is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It contains essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber, which are all important for maintaining overall health and well-being.

One of the key health benefits of Japanese eggplant is its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants help protect the body against damage caused by harmful free radicals and oxidative stress. Eggplants contain anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that gives them their vibrant purple color. These antioxidants have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Moreover, Japanese eggplant is low in calories and carbohydrates, making it a great choice for those watching their weight or following a low-carb diet. Its high fiber content promotes digestive health, aids in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, and contributes to a feeling of fullness.

Additionally, Japanese eggplant is a good source of nasunin, a phytonutrient found in the skin of the eggplant. Nasunin has been shown to have potential neuroprotective properties, helping to protect brain cells from damage and supporting cognitive function.

To enjoy the health benefits of Japanese eggplant, you can incorporate it into your meals in various ways. Whether you choose to grill, roast, stir-fry, or bake it, this versatile vegetable adds a unique flavor and texture to dishes. From traditional Japanese recipes to fusion cuisine, Japanese eggplant offers a delightful culinary experience along with its numerous health benefits.

Traditional Japanese eggplant recipes

Japanese cuisine boasts a variety of traditional eggplant recipes that highlight the flavors and textures of this versatile ingredient. Here are a few popular ones:

1. Miso-glazed Japanese eggplant

Ingredients

For the Sweet Miso Glaze

  • Miso – 3 tbsp
  • Sugar – 1 tbsp 
  • Mirin – 1 tbsp
  • Sake – 1/2 to 1 tbsp (or water; adjust the amount based on miso type)

For the Garnish (Optional)

  • Toasted white sesame seeds – 2 tsp
  • Green onion/scallion – 1 
  • Shiso leaves – 5

Instructions

To begin, collect all the necessary ingredients for the recipe. Next, adjust the oven rack to the center position, ensuring it is approximately 7 inches (18 cm) away from the heating element. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). If you are using a convection oven, remember to lower the cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC).

To Make the Sweet Miso Glaze

In a small bowl, combine the miso paste and sugar, ensuring they are thoroughly mixed until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Pour in the mirin and gradually add the sake until you reach your desired consistency, as the texture of miso can vary (some may be chunkier than others). Stir thoroughly and set aside.

To Prepare the Eggplants

Trim off the stem and calyx of the eggplants, then slice them in half lengthwise from the top to the bottom, creating halves that resemble boats. If the eggplants are elongated, you can also opt to cut them in half widthwise.

Using a knife, make diagonal cuts on the flesh of the eggplant in one direction and then the other. The cuts should be approximately ⅛ inch (3 mm) deep and ⅛ inch (3 mm) wide, creating a crisscross pattern on the exposed surface. This scoring technique helps to speed up the cooking process of the eggplants and enhances their visual appeal.

Submerge the eggplants in water for 10 minutes to eliminate their astringency. Pat dry the eggplants using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, then arrange them on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

Apply a generous coating of sesame oil onto the flesh of the eggplant. Flip the eggplants over, placing them cut-side down on the baking sheet.

To Bake

Place the eggplants in the oven and bake them at a temperature of 425°F (220°C) for a duration of 15 minutes.

At the same time, thinly slice the green onion into rounds.

Take the shiso leaves and tightly roll them up. Then, slice the rolled leaves into thin julienned strips.

Once 15 minutes have passed, verify that the eggplant skin has started to shrink and the flesh has become tender. Take out the baking sheet from the oven. Next, switch the oven setting to the broiler function and preheat it. Ensure that the oven rack remains in the center position, approximately 7 inches (18 cm) away from the heating element.

Gently flip the eggplants and generously brush them with the sweet miso glaze, ensuring the entire surface is coated. The amount of glaze needed may vary based on the size of your eggplants. The original recipe yields enough glaze for 3 large or 5 medium-sized eggplants. If there is any glaze left over, you can either freeze it for future use or use it as a tasty dip for snacking on veggies.

To Broil

Position the eggplants beneath the broiler and broil them for 3-5 minutes, or until the glaze starts to bubble. Take into account that the cooking time may differ depending on the distance between the baking sheet and the heating element. Once done, carefully remove the eggplants from the broiler.

To Serve

Gently scatter the toasted sesame seeds, sliced green onions, and fresh shiso leaves over the baked eggplants. Serve promptly to enjoy the flavors at their best.

2. Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Soy Sauce

Ingredients

  • Japanese eggplant – 1 pound
  • Vegetable oil – 1/4 cup
  • Fresh ginger, grated – 1-inch knob
  • Soy sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Sesame seed oil sauce – 1 tsp
  • Rice vinegar – 1 tsp
  • For garnishing toasted sesame seeds
  • For garnishing Chopped cilantro

Instructions

Begin by cutting the eggplant in half lengthwise, and then proceed to slice it into 3-inch long pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and rice vinegar, and mix them well.

Add the eggplant pieces to the marinade, ensuring they are thoroughly coated. Preheat the grill and brush it with oil to prevent sticking. Place the marinated eggplant directly on the grill and cook each side for approximately 3-5 minutes.

Once the eggplant is grilled to perfection, brush it with additional marinade or soy sauce for extra flavor. Sprinkle sesame seeds and cilantro over the top as a garnish.

3. Japanese Eggplant Tempura

Ingredients

  • Japanese eggplant, cut into half-inch slices – 1 pound
  • All-purpose flour – 1 1/4 cups
  • Cold water – 2 cups
  • Panko flakes – 2 cups
  • Oil for frying
  • Soy sauce, for dipping

Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the flour and water, whisking until you achieve a smooth consistency. Set the mixture aside. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and keep it aside.

Heat approximately 2 inches of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350°F (175°C).

Take each piece of eggplant and dip it into the flour and water mixture, ensuring it is evenly coated. Shake off any excess batter. Roll the coated eggplant in the panko breadcrumbs, ensuring it is fully coated.

Carefully fry the coated eggplant in the preheated oil until it turns a beautiful golden brown and becomes crispy, which usually takes around 3 minutes. Once cooked, transfer the fried eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate or a wire rack to drain excess oil.

To serve, enjoy the warm and crispy eggplant by dipping it in soy sauce for added flavor.

Japanese eggplant Recipes in modern cuisine

Japanese eggplant has also found its way into modern culinary creations, combining traditional flavors with contemporary cooking techniques. Here are a few examples:

1. Japanese Eggplant Stir-fry

Ingredients

  • Japanese eggplants – 4 (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Peanut oil or canola oil, divided – 5 tbsp
  • Hoisin sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Plum sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Jalapeño peppers – 2 ( cut into thin rings )
  • Yellow onion – 1 small (sliced into 1/4-inch wedges)
  • Minced garlic – 2 tsp
  • Minced fresh ginger – 1 tsp
  • Fresh basil leaves – 1 cup

Instructions

Start by cutting the eggplants lengthwise into quarters, and then further slice them into 2-inch pieces. Take a large cast-iron skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Add half of the eggplant to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes tender and develops some browned parts, which usually takes about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked eggplant to a large bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the rest of the eggplant. Keep the cooked eggplant covered to maintain its warmth and set it aside.

In the meantime, whisk together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and plum sauce in a small bowl. Set the sauce aside.

Using the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Add jalapeños and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until they become slightly softened, which typically takes around 4 to 5 minutes. Introduce the garlic and ginger to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring often, until they become softened and release their fragrant aromas, usually around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture and basil to the bowl containing the cooked eggplant. Pour in the sauce and stir everything together well. Serve the dish immediately to enjoy its flavors at their best.

2. Japanese Eggplant Curry

Ingredients

  • Japanese eggplant – 1 pound (cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 3 tbsp
  • Onion diced – 1/2 (medium size)
  • Fresh ginger, grated – 1-inch knob
  • Garlic, minced – 2 cloves
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup
  • Fish sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Curry powder – 1 tbsp
  • Brown sugar – 1 tsp
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sliced Thai chili – 1
  • For garnishing Chopped cilantro

Instructions

Begin by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and wait until it is hot. Then, add the eggplant to the skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the eggplant is nicely seared.

Next, stir in the onions, ginger, and garlic, and continue cooking for about 1 minute or until they become soft. If the pan appears dry due to the eggplant absorbing the oil, you can add a little more olive oil while stirring in the onions.

Reduce the heat to low and add the coconut milk, fish sauce, curry powder, brown sugar, black pepper, and optional chilies to the skillet. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 2 minutes, giving the eggplant time to absorb some of the flavorful sauce.

To serve, pair the dish with rice and garnish it with fresh cilantro for an added touch of freshness.

3. Japanese Eggplant Noodle Dish Recipes

Ingredients
  • Kosher salt
  • Dried wide rice noodles – 12 oz
  • Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) – 3 tbsp
  • Yellow or white – 1 tbsp
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, divided – 6 tbsp
  • 1½lb. medium Japanese eggplant – 1 1/2 lb (sliced ¾” thick)
  • Garlic – 6 cloves (thinly sliced)
  • Ginger, peeled, finely chopped – 1-inch piece
  • Double-concentrated tomato paste – 2 tbsp
  • Unsalted butter – 2 tbsp
  • Scallions – 3 thinly sliced
  • Chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts – 1/4 cup
Instructions

Start by bringing a large pot of lightly salted water to a simmer. Once the water is simmering, remove the pot from the heat and add the noodles. Let the noodles soak in the hot water, stirring occasionally, until they become very al dente. Drain the noodles, reserving 1 cup of the noodle cooking liquid, and rinse them under cold running water.

In a small bowl, mix together the gochujang and miso. Gradually add 1½ cups of warm water to the mixture, stirring until it becomes smooth.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant to the skillet and drizzle another 2 tablespoons of oil over it. Lightly season with salt. Allow the eggplant to cook undisturbed until it turns golden brown, which usually takes around 3 minutes. Toss the eggplant and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until most of the eggplant pieces are golden and nearly tender, which typically takes about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Cook the garlic and ginger, stirring often, until they become golden, approximately 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it slightly darkens, which usually takes about 1 minute. Stir in the gochujang mixture and return the cooked eggplant to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is nearly falling apart, which takes about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the drained noodles, butter, and ½ cup of the reserved noodle cooking liquid to the skillet. Toss everything together, ensuring the noodles are coated with the sauce. Cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until the sauce becomes glossy, which usually takes about 2 minutes. Season with salt according to taste.

Vegan and vegetarian Japanese eggplant recipes

Japanese eggplant is a favorite ingredient among vegans and vegetarians due to its versatility and ability to absorb flavors. Here are a couple of vegan and vegetarian-friendly recipes:

1. Vegan Japanese Eggplant Roll-ups Recipes

Ingredients

FOR THE EGGPLANT

  • Eggplants – 1-2 (sliced in 8 half-inch pieces)
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper and salt to taste

FILLING

  • Cauliflower – 1 head
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled – 3 cloves
  • Sun-dried -tomatoes – 4 oz
  • Large basil leaves – 5-6
  • Olive oil – 1 tsp
  • Plain hummus – 1/4 cup
  • Vegan parmesan – 2 tbsp
  • Baby spinach chopped – 2 cups
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Italian seasoning – 2 tsp
  • Pepper and salt to taste

FOR THE CASSEROLE

  • Marinara – 3-4 cups
  • vegan parmesan for topping
  • Basil or fresh parsley for topping
Instructions

FOR THE EGGPLANT:

Start by slicing the eggplant into eight ½-inch thick slices. Season the slices with salt and pepper.

Heat a griddle over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Grill the eggplant in batches until grill marks appear on both sides and the eggplant begins to soften.

Add more oil to the pan between batches if necessary. Set the grilled eggplant aside.

FOR THE FILLING:

Take the cauliflower and cut it into florets, then place them in a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower until it reaches a rice-like consistency. Add garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil to the food processor and pulse until well combined.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the cauliflower mixture. Saute for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add hummus, vegan parmesan, baby spinach, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the pan. Continue sautéing for an additional 3-5 minutes until the

Ingredients are thoroughly combined, the cauliflower is softened, and the spinach is wilted. Taste the filling and adjust the seasonings as needed.

FOR THE CASSEROLE:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour marinara sauce into the bottom of a baking dish, spreading it evenly. Take each eggplant slice and place 2-4 tablespoons of the filling on top, depending on the width of the slice.

Roll up the eggplant slices and place them in the baking dish on top of the marinara sauce. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until everything is heated through.

Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle it with vegan parmesan and parsley (or basil). Plate the eggplant rolls with marinara sauce and serve.

Japanese Eggplant Tacos Recipes with Miso Dressing

Ingredients

Marinated Cucumbers

  • Cucumber – 1 (thinly sliced or cut into small dice)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt or 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • Mirin – 1 tbsp
  • Crushed pepper – 1-2 tsp or less to taste
  • Sugar – 1/4 tsp
Miso-Glazed Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku)
  • Sake – 2 tbsp
  • Mirin – 2 tbsp
  • Brown sugar or coconut sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Crushed red pepper, optional – 1 tsp
  • Red miso – 1/4 cup
  • Japanese eggplants – 1 lb or 4-5 tops and bottoms trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp

For serving

  • Heated Corn tortillas
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnishing
  • Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
Instructions
To prepare the marinated cucumbers:
  1. Place the sliced cucumbers in a mixing bowl and toss them with salt. Allow them to sit for 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
  2. Return the cucumbers to a clean and dry mixing bowl. Add mirin, chili, and sugar, and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the cucumbers until ready to use. They can be made several hours in advance.
To make the miso-glazed eggplant (nasu dengaku):
  1. Start by preparing the glaze. In a small pot, combine sake, mirin, sugar, and crushed pepper. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking regularly, until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Turn off the heat and add miso to the pot. Whisk until smooth, then set the glaze aside until ready to use. You can make the glaze a day in advance and store it in the fridge.

Cook the eggplant:

  1. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the eggplants with oil and place them cut-side-down on the hot skillet.
  2. Cook the eggplants for 3-4 minutes until they are well browned and have charred spots. If using a grill pan, rotate the eggplants 45 degrees halfway through to create crosshatch marks.
  3. Flip the eggplants over and grill or cook them skin-side down for an additional 3-4 minutes until grill marks appear or the skin is charred in places. Place the cooked eggplants cut side up on a baking tray lined with foil.

When ready to make the tacos:

  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler and position a rack about 6 inches from the top burner. Allow the oven to heat up for about 10 minutes. This is a good time to prepare your tortillas and garnishes.
  2. Brush or spoon plenty of miso glaze (dengaku) over the cut sides of the eggplants. Reserve some glaze for later use.
  3. Broil the eggplants for approximately 3-5 minutes until the dengaku glaze becomes hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven.

To assemble the tacos and serve them:

  1. Cut the eggplants to fit into the tortillas. Spoon a bit of extra dengaku glaze onto a warm tortilla.
  2. Add two or three pieces of eggplant to the tortilla.
  3. Top with the marinated cucumbers and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
  4. Enjoy your delicious miso-glazed eggplant tacos!

Japanese Eggplant Pizza Recipes

Ingredients
  • Eggplant – 1 small or 1/2 a medium
  • Grated parmesan – 1/2 cup (use any extra to top the finished pizza)
  • Unsalted butter – 2 tbsp
  • Italian panko breadcrumbs – 1/3 cup
  • Homemade pizza dough for one 10-12 inch pizza or 1 pkg store-bought
  • Pizza sauce – 1/2 cup
  • Whole milk mozzarella, shredded – 2 cups
  • Roma tomato – 1 thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400ºF.

  1. Begin by removing the ends of the eggplant, then cut it into 1/8″ thick slices, aiming for around 8-10 slices. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Drizzle the eggplant slices with olive oil and evenly sprinkle a thin layer of grated Parmigiano cheese on top. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake the eggplant in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the Parmesan is lightly browned.
  4. While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the bread crumbs. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add Italian panko breadcrumbs and toast them until they turn golden brown and become fragrant. Set the toasted breadcrumbs aside.
  5. Now, it’s time to assemble your pizza. Follow the package instructions to prepare your pizza dough. Roll it out into a circle, aiming for a size of about 10-12 inches. I recommend using a greased 12-inch pizza pan.
  6. Scoop the pizza sauce onto the center of the pizza dough and spread it evenly to the edges, leaving a small border for the crust.
  7. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Arrange the roasted eggplant slices and tomatoes on top, distributing them evenly. Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs over the toppings, ensuring they are spread out.
  8. Finish by adding the remaining mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of any leftover grated Parmesan.
  9. Bake the pizza in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.
  10. Once baked, garnish the pizza with freshly torn basil leaves and serve it hot.

FAQs

What is the healthiest way to eat eggplant?

The healthiest way to eat Japanese eggplant is by baking it. Baking preserves its nutrients and allows you to enjoy its fiber, antioxidants, vitamins (such as B-6 and thiamine), minerals (like copper and manganese), and other beneficial compounds. Simply pierce the skin with a fork, bake for around 30 minutes, and then use the cooked flesh in various recipes.

Does eggplant burn fat?

While eggplant alone doesn’t have fat-burning properties, it can support weight loss due to its low-calorie and high fiber content. Incorporating eggplant into a balanced diet can help with weight management and may contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease, and cancer, and improving blood sugar levels.

Is eggplant better raw or cooked?

Eggplant is generally better cooked rather than raw. Cooking helps soften the texture, enhance the flavor, and improve digestibility. It also allows the release of beneficial compounds such as antioxidants. However, it can be enjoyed raw in certain dishes like salads or dips, depending on personal preference.

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