Nasu no Asazuke (Japanese Raw Aubergine Salad)

nasu_zukepI did have salt-pickled aubergine in Japan several times, but I have never prepared it and, most of all, I have never suspected that salting it for ten minutes only would result in anything edible, not to mention such a surprisingly delicious thing. Briefly salted, raw aubergine retains some of its crunchiness, stays pleasantly fresh and possibly unrecognisable to those who have never tasted it salt-pickled. Shiso (perilla) leaves and raw ginger add a bold mixture of flavours, creating the most unusual aubergine dish I have ever tasted.

Salt-pickling is only one of the many Japanese pickling methods and this dish is an excellent example of the quickest, “instant” salt-pickling, typical of Japanese cuisine. I found this fantastic recipe on Youtube in an episode of the “3 minute cooking” (3 分 クッキング), an apparently very popular short Japanese tv program I have just discovered and about which you will probably read more here very soon because I’ve found lots of other promising recipes. I have slightly changed the ingredients’ ratio and used a Western, not Asian aubergine, so if you speak Japanese, you check the original なすの浅漬けrecipe here (no English subtitles).

TIPS: If you don’t have myoga, which visually ressembles slightly a shallot (but tastes completely different), simply skip it. Some people replace it with young ginger, but I think here, since ginger is one of the ingredients, it’s better to skip it (I had some frozen myoga, so I used it for the first time, but I skipped it for the dish I photographed). Here is what myoga looks like:


If you can find the small Asian aubergine, it will certainly taste better, but I prepared this dish already twice with normal Western variety and it was delicious too.

If you cannot find shiso, experiment with other boldly flavoured fresh herbs. There is no similarly tasting substitute for shiso, but I’m sure some other strongly scented leaves can make this “salad” taste great.

Do not be tempted to prepare this dish in advance. The taste gets worse and, most of all, the shiso leaves become really awful.

Preparation: about 15-20 minutes

Ingredients (serves three-four as a side dish):

1 small Western aubergine/eggplant (or two small Asian ones)

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon finely shredded ginger

4 – 5 myoga buds, finely shredded

5 big shiso leaves, finely sliced

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more if you use low-sodium version)

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Soak the shredded ginger and shiso in cold water.

Cut the Western aubergine in four lengthwise and then into thin slices.

If you use the Asian variety, cut it in two lengthwise and then cut into thin diagonal slices.

Place the aubergine slices in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix delicately with your hands.

Put aside for ten minutes.

Squash the aubergine slices in your hands to remove the brownish liquid they will release.

Discard the liquid and pace the squashed slices into another bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients, give the salad a stir and serve immediately.

14 Replies to “Nasu no Asazuke (Japanese Raw Aubergine Salad)”

  1. My Asian list from your blog just gets longer and longer every time I read your lovely posts. We have several vibrant Asian communities in Toronto and surrounding areas so I am certain I will be able to find most of the things on the list. Myoga is intriguing, I adore ginger so I am 100% sure I would love this ingredient. Is it a tuber like ginger? You mention freezing, do you do so whole or sliced thinly? I usually buy a tuber of ginger and wash it, dry it thoroughly and then freeze it whole. Once frozen solid, you may grate it on a fine microplane without even peeling it, it’s absolutely amazing and I have ginger at home ALL THE TIME! I have two types right now, traditional and Thai ginger.
    This will definitely be a dish I’ll have to try on my own as JT is not a fan of aubergine at the best of times, let alone raw 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Eva, for all the kind words. I have never seen myoga here, but maybe it’s easier to get in Canada… it’s actually a bud not a tuber and the taste is really different from ginger (though if you have had very young ginger, there is a tiny similarity…). I was forced to freeze myoga (I bring it once a year from Japan), but it gets soggy and loses a lot of its fresh flavours.
      I also have ginger all the time (like garlic and onion) but never freeze it because here every single supermarket sells it (I have it practically 30 m from my home). I don’t like the mushiness and the loss of flavours galanga undergoes (I do freeze it though because the packages are too big and it doesn’t keep as well as ginger). I always use much more of frozen galanga in dishes and still think it’s not the same as fresh one.
      I hope you will like this salad!

  2. My mom and I are big fan of eggplant tsukemono and this summer we bought from different stores and enjoyed different kinds. I haven’t actually tried making it at home, so this is something I have to do in the future, and your recipe is very inspiring! Maybe after the kitchen remodel is done… I really miss home cooking. It’s been already 3 weeks without kitchen after we came back from Japan and I long for a bowl of steamed rice (good rice, of course) and natsu no asazuke… may I come over….? 😀

    1. Thanks a lot, Nami. I hope you will soon have your kitchen back, but you are welcome here of course any time you want!

  3. You have an amazing collection of eggplants recipes! Thank you for continuing to share them! Those Asian eggplants are quite lovely. I never see them around here, but I’m going to look harder. It’s a beautiful salad you are sharing today. Perfect for warmer weather – light, cool and healthy! Thanks!

    1. Thanks a lot, MJ. I never buy Asian aubergine either (all my dishes are made with Western variety, but I always choose the smallest available mainly because they are cute 🙂

  4. I am completely enchanted with the look of your myoga — so delicate and beautiful. I don’t think I have ever come across this Japanese ginger but will keep my eyes open the next time I visit my favorite Japanese market — so glad I have you guiding the way and introducing me to so many new ingredients that I might not otherwise take notice of. The pairing of ingredients and textures in this salad sound so interesting and refreshing on an August day.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I have never seen it here, maybe because it’s more delicate, since it’s a bud of a plant… I bring it from Japan (if you don’t find it, maybe an idea for your husband’s next trip? they sell it in every supermarket or big shops’ underground food section). I freeze some, but it’s of course not as good as fresh.

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