If 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.