Quickest Japanese-Style Aubergine

Do you ever cook anything in the microwave? I mean from the scratch? For many years I used it only to reheat and defrost, probably because it has such a bad opinion in Europe: some say microwaved food tastes worse, others that it’s unhealthy…  All that changed when I started reading Japanese recipes and watching Japanese cooking videos where microwave appears often as just another quick cooking appliance. This incredibly quick side dish was inspired by several Japanese aubergine recipes I saw online and is a great example of how delicious microwaved vegetables can be. If one day you are in a hurry and need a fantastic Japanese side-dish, this one won’t disappoint you.

TIPS: Combine the aubergines with the sauce while they are still hot: this way they’ll soak up more of the sauce.

You can prepare this dish the day before, but sprinkle with sesame seeds, chives and katsuobushi just before serving.

Katsuobushi is dried bonito fish usually sold in flakes which look a bit like wood shavings (see the photograph above). They have a slightly smokey aroma, are used as a topping (I find them addictive this way) but also as an ingredient of dashi, the Japanese stock (or rather one of its versions). You can buy these in Japanese grocery shops and online, but if you don’t have them, don’t worry. The dish will be delicious anyway.

Preparation: about 10-15 minutes

Ingredients (serves two as the only side dish):

2 small Western aubergines (about 250 g/approx. half a pound) or the equivalent in Asian aubergines

toasted white sesame seeds

green onion or chives, chopped

katsuobushi (dried bonito) flakes


2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon water or dashi (Japanese stock)

1 tablespoon mirin (sweet cooking sake)

(1/2 teaspoon honey or syrup or sugar)

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

If using Western bigger aubergines, cut them in half lengthwise. You can also peel them if you want (I prefer keeping them with skin on).

If you use small Asian aubergines, you don’t need to peel them (the skin is very soft and thin). Cut them lengthwise too.

Cook the aubergines in the microwave for 3 minutes at highest power or, if using the smaller ones, 2 minutes. Check if they are soft enough for you and cook more if needed.

Prepare the sauce combining all the ingredients.

Take the hot aubergines out of the microwave and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Place them into a bowl and combine quickly with the sauce.

Serve warm or cold sprinkled with green onion/chives, sesame seeds and katsuobushi, if you have them.


10 Replies to “Quickest Japanese-Style Aubergine”

  1. Tasty sounding dish.

    I actually bought a microwave cookbook 25 yrs ago … don’t think I used it more than once. I just use my microwave for thawing and reheating. 🙂

  2. I generally only use it for reheating, mekting (chocolate or butter) but never for defrosting). JT makes egg whites in it in the morning for our breakfast. It’s not my favourite appliance. But your aubergine sounds delicious.

    1. Thank you, Eva. I defrost bread in the microwave all the time (I buy bread once a week in my French bakery and then cut into pieces and defrost when needed), but otherwise I usually half defrost cooked food and then finish reheating on the stovetop.

  3. Your timing is impeccable! Yesterday I picked the first Japanese eggplants from my garden. Bobby was asking me this morning what was I going to make and I told him “I haven’t decided yet.” Well, I just decided. I have all of the ingredients so it’s a no brainer. I’ll let you know how we like it. The microwave method is great for eggplant because when you saute’ them, they soak up the oil like a sponge as you well know. I always microwave eggplant for baba ganoush and it works great. Thanks for another awesome dish Sissi!

    1. Lucky you!!! I should maybe experiment growing eggplants on my balcony next year… but I always have so many herbs and chillies…. and now wasabi too… not enough space! I hope you have tried this simple side dish! (And liked it). Thank you once more for the kind comment!

      1. I made this a couple of nights ago and it was a huge hit!!! Bobby isn’t to crazy about eggplant, but he loves to have the plants in the garden because they are gorgeous plants (but pretty big for a patio). However, he did love this dish, so it looks like I’ll be making it a lot. And it’s so easy! Thank you!

        1. Thank you so much, dear friend, for this kind message. It makes me so happy! I’m thrilled you both liked it! (By the way, I think the eggplant is the most beautiful vegetable in the world!).

  4. I’ve not microwaved eggplant before but it sounds like a quick and healthy way to cook it. I think you eggplant dish sounds great. When I had my garden in New Hampshire, I grew Japanese eggplant and loved them…they had a sweeter taste to me.

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