Japanese culinary heritage is known for its delicate balance of flavors and artistic presentation. Japanese eggplants are no exception to this and the slender, deep-purple vegetables are known as “nasu” in Japanese. They are celebrated for their mild but distinct flavor and their ability to absorb the rich taste of umami like a culinary sponge.
Join us as we explore some scrumptious Japanese eggplant recipes. Whether you love miso eggplant or wish to try out Ichiban-type Japanese eggplant recipes, this article has you covered. Every time you try these recipes, they may turn out greater than before.
If you are an ultimate foodie or just bored of the usual cuisine, you should learn how to make amazing Japanese eggplant dishes. And you can trust us when we say that your taste buds will thank you for the way these dishes will make them dance.
Does Japanese Eggplant Taste Like Regular Eggplant?
Over 18 varieties of eggplants exist worldwide. Japanese eggplants are a sweeter and tenderer version. They are smaller, longer, and contain fewer seeds than other eggplant variants. The fewer seeds serves to reduce the typical vegetable bitterness you experience with other eggplant varieties.
Here are some key differences in the taste and texture of Japanese eggplants that make them distinct members of the eggplant family:
Japanese eggplants have a more tender and less spongy texture than regular eggplants. Their flesh is more delicate than others and cooks quickly.
There is a difference between the flavor of Japanese and regular eggplants. Unlike others, Japanese eggplant has a mild, sweet taste. Its thin skin reduces the bitterness.
Size and Shape
The Japanese eggplants have a slender and elongated shape that is similar to that of a zucchini or a cucumber, whereas regular eggplants are larger and more round in shape.
Due to their smaller size and tender texture, Japanese eggplants are preferred for stir-frying or roasting. They can absorb flavors well and cook faster. This makes them suitable for a wide variety of dishes.
Although there are distinct differences between Japanese and regular eggplants, they can be used interchangeably in many recipes. Your selection between the two is entirely dependent on your taste preferences and the dish you plan to cook.
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Are Japanese Eggplants Healthy?
Yes, as with regular eggplants, Japanese eggplants will make a healthy addition to your diet. They are nutritious and offer several health benefits, including:
Eggplants are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which can help with digestion and maintaining a healthy weight, while also supporting heart health (2).
Japanese eggplants are relatively low in calories, which makes them suitable for anyone who is managing their calorie intake (1).
Potential Blood Pressure Benefits
The potassium in eggplants can help regulate blood pressure, which contributes to heart health (1).
Enriched with Nutrients
As with other varieties, Japanese eggplants contain antioxidants such as anthocyanins and nasunin. These may help protect cells from the damage that is caused by free radicals and potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases (3).
Just like any other food, Japanese eggplants can be part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. Cooking methods will also impact their nutritional content, so you should consider healthy cooking methods such as roasting or grilling with minimum added fats for maximum nutritional benefits.
What Are Some Easy Japanese Eggplant Recipes?
After learning all the perks of Japanese eggplants, it is natural that you want some easy recipes for cooking them. We’ve found some of the best recipes for Japanese eggplants.
Fried Japanese Eggplant
Here is a quick and simple recipe for fried Japanese eggplants:
Servings: 2 – 4
- 2 Japanese eggplants
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Marinara sauce or dipping sauce of your choice (optional)
- Prepare the Eggplants
- Wash the Japanese eggplants and trim off the ends.
- Cut the eggplants into thin slices, approximately 1/4-inch thick. The skin can be left on.
- Dredge the Eggplant Slices
- Set up three shallow bowls or plates.
- In the first bowl, add the all-purpose flour and season it with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- In the second bowl, beat the eggs.
- In the third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. This will add extra flavor and crunch to your fried eggplant.
- Coat the Eggplant Slices
- Take each eggplant slice and dip it first into the flour, ensuring that they are coated evenly
- Next, dip them into the beaten eggs, allowing any excess to drip off
- Finally, coat each slice with the breadcrumb mixture. Try pressing the breadcrumbs onto the eggplant so they adhere.
- Heat the Oil
- Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet or frying pan with a depth of approximately ¼ inch.
- Heat the oil on a medium-high heat until it shimmers and is hot enough for frying (approximately 350°F or 175°C).
- Fry the Eggplant
- Carefully place the coated eggplant slices into the hot oil, ensuring they are not overcrowded in the pan.
- Fry them on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
- Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the fried eggplant slices to a plate that is lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- Serve the fried Japanese eggplant slices hot as an appetizer or side dish.
You could also serve them with marinara sauce or your favorite dipping sauce for extra flavor. Japanese eggplant stir fry version is one of the most popular dishes.
Mediterranean Eggplant Salad
Mediterranean eggplant salad provides a combo that is refreshing and rich. Check out this easy-to-assemble Mediterranean eggplant recipe:
Serves 2 to 3 people
- 3 Japanese eggplants
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
- 1 cucumber, cut into small pieces
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Feta cheese (optional for topping)
- Prepare the Eggplants
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Cut the Japanese eggplants in half lengthwise.
- Make criss-cross cuts on the cut side of each eggplant half.
- Brush the cut sides with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet, cut side down.
- Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until they become tender and slightly browned. You can also grill them if you prefer a smoky flavor.
- Cool and Cut the Eggplants
- Allow the roasted eggplants to cool for a while.
- Cut them into small pieces and put them in a big bowl.
- Make the Dressing
- Mix the minced garlic, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Gradually add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil while stirring until the dressing is well blended.
- Combine Everything
- Add the chopped red bell pepper, cucumber, and finely chopped red onion to the bowl with the eggplants.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables and gently mix everything until they’re coated with the dressing.
- Chill and Add Toppings
- Put the salad in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley on top.
- You can add some crumbled feta cheese as a finishing touch.
- Enjoy your Mediterranean eggplant salad!
This is a perfect dish for warm weather and combines the tasty flavors of roasted Japanese eggplants with Mediterranean-inspired ingredients.
Miso Japanese Eggplant
Another popular Japanese eggplant recipe uses miso and is called “Miso Dengaku.” You need miso glaze to make a Japanese eggplant miso recipe. Here is how you make it:
Serves 4 people
For the Eggplant
- 2-3 Japanese eggplants
- Vegetable oil for brushing
For the Miso Glaze
- 3 tablespoons red or white miso paste
- 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon sake (Japanese rice wine)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
- Toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
- Prepare the Eggplant
- Wash the Japanese eggplants and slice them in half lengthwise. You can further cut them into smaller pieces for easier grilling or broiling if they are too large.
- Salt and Drain the Eggplant (optional)
- If you want to reduce the bitterness and moisture in the eggplant, you can sprinkle a little salt on the cut surfaces and allow them to sit for 15-30 minutes before rinsing and patting them dry.
- Preheat the Grill or Broiler
- Preheat your grill or broiler to a medium-high heat.
- Grill or Broil the Eggplant
- Brush the eggplant slices with a little vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Grill or broil the eggplant pieces until they become tender and have a nice char on both sides, approximately 5-7 minutes per side. You can also brush them with more oil while grilling.
- Prepare the Miso Glaze
- Combine the miso paste, mirin, sugar, sake, and sesame oil (if using) in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over a low-medium heat, stirring continuously, until the sauce becomes smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.
- Glaze the Eggplant
- Once the eggplant is cooked and still hot, brush the miso glaze generously over the grilled or broiled side of each eggplant slice.
- Broil for a Few Minutes
- Place the glazed eggplant slices back under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the miso glaze becomes caramelized and slightly bubbly. Keep a close eye on them to avoid burning.
- Remove the eggplant from the grill or broiler, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions (if desired), and serve immediately.
Miso Dengaku is a scrumptious side dish or an appetizer in Japanese cuisine. It is known for its sweet and savory flavors and can be enjoyed hot or paired with bowls of steamed rice or other Japanese dishes.
What is Japanese Eggplant Good For?
As previously mentioned, regular consumption of Japanese eggplants can be quite beneficial. Including more vegetables in your diet is always a good thing and Japanese eggplant is one of many you can explore. As eggplant is high in fiber, it may help lower cholesterol levels (2).
Eggplants also contain solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides, which potentially have the ability to kill cancer cells. They are rich in anthocyanins, a pigment that has antioxidant properties, which may help protect against cellular damage (3).
Therefore, the versatile Japanese eggplant brings many advantages to consumers.
You can look for baby Japanese eggplant recipes or Ichiban-type Japanese eggplant recipes. The choice is entirely dependent on your taste preferences. With Japanese eggplants, you can treat your body to nutritious and healthy meals.
What Goes Well with Miso Eggplant?
Miso eggplant is a popular Japanese dish that pairs well with several ingredients and dishes to create a nutritious and balanced meal. Here are some ideas when making Japanese eggplant miso for yourself.
The rice (brown or white) balances the strong flavors of the miso sauce while also providing a good base for the dish.
Steamed or sautéed greens such as spinach, bok choy, or broccoli can bring color and freshness to the dish.
Toasted sesame seeds can provide a nutty flavor and a pleasant crunch.
Tangy and spicy kimchi can give your meals a Korean twist.
Chilled soba noodles with a dash of sesame oil or soya sauce can elevate the flavors of miso eggplant.
You can enjoy deep-fried tofu in a savory dashi-based sauce as a side or appetizer before your miso eggplant.
Mix and match these options to create a balanced meal that is tailored to your preferences and dietary requirements. The versatile Japanese eggplant has many recipes that cater to individual needs. For example, if you’re eating eggplant as part of a weight loss diet, you can pair it with green vegetables to balance the flavors.
Do I Need to Peel Japanese Eggplant?
Japanese eggplant holds a special position in the hearts of foodies and peeling it is not necessary as it has a thin skin. However, if your recipe calls for peeling, then you should do it.
Remove the skin in a strip pattern rather than peeling it completely. Leaving small bits of skin can enhance the color and taste of your dish. With some dishes, the vibrant purple color of Japanese eggplant can add a visual appeal to the final appearance. If aesthetics are important for your dish, you may want to keep the skin on.
It is ultimately down to your personal preferences. If you don’t like the texture or flavor of the skin or have dietary restrictions that lead you to prefer peeled eggplant, you can peel it. Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife for peeling eggplants. If you want to leave the skin on, you should remove any tough spots or blemishes.
Why Do You Soak Eggplant in Water Before Cooking?
Soaking eggplant in water before cooking is a common practice, and it serves several purposes:
Soaking allows the eggplant to absorb water, preventing it from absorbing too much oil during cooking. The eggplant will then be less greasy and more pleasant to eat.
Soaking the eggplant in water helps leach out the bitter compounds from the flesh, making it less bitter and more palpable.
After soaking and rinsing, your eggplant is ready for use in your chosen recipe. Whether you are making an eggplant recipe keto or a stir-fried Japanese eggplant recipe, this pre-cooking step will improve the flavor and texture of the vegetable. However, not all recipes require soaking and you should follow all the instructions in your specific recipe to achieve the best results.
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The Bottom Line
To summarize, Japanese eggplant recipes open a world of delicious and nutritious culinary possibilities. This article has taken a look at some of the best Japanese eggplant recipes, which will ensure you can enjoy their natural sweetness without bitterness. These recipes offer a smooth journey into the heart of Japanese cuisine.
So, whether you are a kitchen adventurer or a weekend dinner wizard, Japanese eggplant recipes are your ticket to simple, quirky meals. It is time to say goodbye to boring meals and hello to the gastronomic world of Japan!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should you salt the eggplant before cooking?
Yes, salting eggplant before cooking is a common practice. This is also known as “sweating”.
How do you know when Japanese eggplant is ripe?
Ripe Japanese eggplants have a vibrant and glossy color. Irregularities or deformities may indicate that it is not fully ripe. Also, a ripe Japanese eggplant will produce a slightly hollow sound when it is tapped. If it sounds dull or solid, it may not be fully ripe.
Can you eat Japanese eggplant raw?
As with most other eggplant varieties, Japanese eggplants are not typically eaten raw due to their naturally bitter taste. Eating them raw can result in an unpleasant and mouth-drying sensation.
What is the best way to prepare eggplant?
There are several ways of preparing a dish with Japanese eggplants. The best one is dependent on your diet and taste preferences.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Eggplants (2023, healthline.com)
- 15 foods that lower cholesterol (2023, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant (1998, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Eggplant health benefits and tasty tips (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)