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.