Yaki Nasu 焼きなす(Japanese Grilled Aubergine)

yakinasupIf you still associate aubergine only with fat-soaked greasy chunks, prepare yourself for a big surprise. This refreshing, light dish doesn’t contain a gram of fat and is one of the most amazing aubergine treats I know. I noticed Yaki Nasu last week while looking for new inspiration on Just One Cookbook. Since aubergines are in season here and I had several small ones in the fridge, I prepared Yaki Nasu practically the same day (albeit with some modifications). Given the excellent results I obtained with all the Nami’s recipes, I shouldn’t have been surprised by another successful outcome, but once again, I was in awe of its typical Japanese sophistication in simplicity.

Yaki Nasu means “grilled aubergine”, but as you might guess from the photograph, this is not the usual sliced and grilled version. Actually, the whole aubergine is grilled, peeled, cut into pieces, then finally served with a light sauce and seasoning. As much as I wanted to follow Nami’s recipe to the letter, I was forced to introduce some modifications. First of all, I don’t have gas in my building, so the original grilling the aubergine over the stove flame was out of question. I simply grilled it under the oven grill, turning it once or twice (this took longer and my aubergine never had the beautiful light green hue I saw on Nami’s blog). Moreover, I didn’t have the required ponzu or chilli threads, so I decided to replace them with soy sauce and shichimi togarashi (spicy seasoning with seven spices), since my brand includes yuzu zest. I also have used small, but European aubergines, while Nami advises the Japanese ones.

In spite of all these changes, this side dish was fabulous and practical at the same time: I have already served it warm and cold and both versions were excellent. The cold one is pleasantly cooling on hot summer days and perfect as a snack too. Thank you so much, Nami, for one more Japanese discovery!

Visit Just One Cookbook  to see the original unchanged recipe with her clear, step-by-step explanations and discover her other easy and luscious Japanese treats.

TIPS: If you intend to have this dish cold, you can grill and peel the aubergine even one day before and keep it in the fridge.

I haven’t tested it, but Nami gives another delicious alternative sauce idea: a mixture of soy sauce and grated ginger, so if you cannot get ponzu or anything with yuzu flavour, try this combination.

If you realise you have grilled too much aubergine, you can always use it in a soup (delicious in ramen!).

Preparation: about 30 minutes (+ aubergine cooling time) or less, if you grill over a gas stove

Ingredients (serves two as a side dish):

2 Japanese/Asian aubergines or one small/two very small Western aubergines

katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

green onions or chives

shichimi togarashi (seven ingredient spicy Japanese seasoning) or chilli threads

soy sauce (or ponzu, if you have it)

yuzu koshou (fresh chilli and yuzu paste, see the recipe here)

If you have a gas stove, go to Nami’s  blog to see the whole process.

If you don’t, heat the oven grill.

Prick the aubergines on the whole surface with a fork.

Score the skin horizontally into several “strips” to make the peeling process easier (it’s not a tragedy if you forget, but it’s easier this way).

Grill the aubergines under the grill until the skin starts becoming black and wrinkled.

Turn to the other side and grill observing the skin.

If the aubergine is very plump you might have to grill it on four sides. If it’s rather lean, two sides are enough.

Take it out and either peel it as soon as it is bearable to touch or let it cool down completely and peel it afterwards. (It depends if you want to serve it warm or cold and if you want to keep the green hue: if you wait, the aubergine flesh will lose the green hue; as you see mine was rather dark).

Cut the aubergine into bite-sized pieces and arrange on one or two plates

Pour soy sauce over it, sprinkle with shichimi togarashi, katsuobushi and chopped green onions. Serve with yuzu kosho.



28 Replies to “Yaki Nasu 焼きなす(Japanese Grilled Aubergine)”

  1. There can be as many recipes for yaki nasu as there are Japanese, and yours looks tasty in its own way. My father would never peel the nasu after grilling. Just some soy sauce (with some grated ginger) should be enough for him.
    (Did I tell you that I am one of the few exceptions who don’t care for nasu? (laugh))

    1. Thank you, Hiroyuki. I suppose we must peel the European aubergine (I think the Japanese/Asian ones have thinner skin), though when I stir fry it or grill it in slices, I also leave the skin on. Nami mentions ginger and soy sauce too. I must taste this version next time. I vaguely remember you didn’t like a vegetable… In Europe many people hate aubergine, especially those from colder countries (it’s a rather mediterranean vegetable and more popular in southern Europe).

  2. “fat-soaked greasy chunks” — haha! I know exactly what you mean. We don’t eat eggplant very often (my husband has an oral allergy) but deep-fried eggplant Parmesan was all the rage forever in restaurants over here…this recipe is definitely not that ;-). Your rendition of yaki nasu is beautiful and fresh looking and I love the simplicity. How great that you can use a broiler for this too! So practical and helpful. I was just considering featuring eggplant on the blog since I’ve yet to do it! ‘Tis the season :).

    1. Hi Kelly. Yes, I meant the deep-fried Italian versions (at least some of the Italian versions…). I had a friend who tasted aubergine first time in Sicily and it was deep-fried or shallow fried every time she was served it. Afterwards she couldn’t even look at it.
      Thank you so much for the compliments.

  3. Aubergine or eggplant (as I know it as) is very tricky to make and have it taste good. I have had the oil soaked version, that’s for sure. I like it still a little firm and this method of cooking seems like a method that allows you control that and not end up with a soft mushy vegetable. So simple and yet quite delicious I’m sure.

    1. Thank you, MJ. On one hand if it’s too mushy, it’s not that good, but on the other hand you can always transform it into aubergine/eggplant paste mixed with sesame paste (baba ghanouj). It’s delicious! (I stick to aubergine… I try to stick to BrE terms as far as I can…).

        1. Haha! I still remember when I started to learn English and made sure I knew the equivalents of certain words… I still sometimes have problems with choosing the right one. (For me “aubergine” or “courgette” is even more natural since it’s the same in French).

  4. Your dish looks always very delicious. Katubushi(鰹節) very fits for Yakinasu,my wife would season Yakinasu with ginger. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Minoru. Nami also suggests ginger with soy sauce, so I will definitely try this seasoning next time.

  5. Your dish is gorgeous! I love the delicate flakes you’ve sprinkled on them. This would make a beautiful accompaniment to a summer dinner. I love that you can serve it cold too.
    I’m sorry to have missed a few posts, I hope to have time next week to catch up.

  6. OOO, that looks incredible. So pretty too. I really like the idea of the yuzu sauce – it’s hard to find savory vegetarian pairings for yuzu.

    p.s. I’m also a fan of Nami’s blog. The recipes all look so delicious.

    1. Thanks a lot, Joyti. I love yuzu… I wish I had access to fresh fruit here. Nice to learn you are another fan of Nami’s blog.

  7. I love eggplant and I always try to make it without using any fat, because they are notorious for being like sponges with oil. I visit Nami’s blog but I somehow missed this one. You made one fine eggplant dish Sissi and very light in texture. I agree that grilling the eggplant adds not only to texture but also to flavor. But I am sure the final dish was great even without the grilling!

    1. I totally agree. Like sponge! The good side is that it absorbs also sauces the same way and here the soy sauce makes it delicious. Thank you for the compliments.

  8. Hello Sissi! Thank you so much for the kind mention of my blog! Wow, your Yaki Nasu looks gorgeous! I love how they are presented on the plate. As always, I enjoyed reading your detailed description of the recipe and notes which will be very helpful for your readers. I just shared your link on Facebook. Hope many people will check out your delicious yaki nasu. 🙂

    1. Hi, Nami. Thank you so much for such huge compliments and for your approval of my attempt to copy your yaki nasu 😉 I really loved it and made it already several times. Thank you once more for one more excellent recipe! (And thank you so much for the link on facebook; it’s extremely kind of you 🙂 ).

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