Tender aubergine half bathed in a light warm broth, garnished with chopped spring onions and grated ginger. The flesh of the fruit which has saturated with the rich umami flavour from the broth just melts in the mouth. While the green young spring onion is providing a few fresh crunches, the grated ginger adds a raw, spicy excitement to the whole dish. It is how I remember its taste, the Agedashi Nasu (deep-fried aubergine served in dashi broth) which I first tasted in a Japanese restaurant a few weeks ago. It made such an impression to me that, by the second I left the restaurant, I decided to recreate it at home.
Note: as I have been trying to avoid deep frying food as much as I can, so the cooking method I use here is baking rather than the traditional deep-frying. It means less oily and less messy. Just brush enough oil on both sides (and the skin) of the aubergine slices, and they are good to go. Score the skins on the end-slices so it cooks evenly. Make sure you have the freshest aubergines for this dish as they tend to turn bitter when they are older. Traditionally, this dish is served at room temperature or cool, but I prefer it warm and served with steamed white rice which will soaked up all the flavours from the broth, makes a substantial full meal rather than a side.
Served 4 (or 2 as a main with rice)
- 2 medium aubergines, thinly sliced (about 6 slices per aubergine)
- Vegetable oil
- 1 thumb size ginger, grated
- 1-2 spring onion, finely sliced
For the dashi sauce:
- 300ml dashi stock (I use non-MSG granules)
- 4 tbsp. Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
- 3 tbsp. mirin
- 3 tbsp. sake
- 1 tsp. light brown sugar
- a handful of dried bonito flakes (optional)
- Steamed rice
Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius. Line a baking sheet with baking paper, brush the aubergine slices with vegetable oil on both sides. Lay the slices on the baking try without overlapping. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the aubergines turn golden brown and soft.
While the aubergines are cooking, prepare the dashi stock: bring the water to boil and then add the right amount of dashi granules into the water until dissolved. Add tamari, mirin and sake, bring to boil for a minute and then removed from heat. Set aside.
When the aubergines are ready, transfer them to a small rimmed plate or baking tray in layers (see picture), pour in the dashi stock and let soak the aubergine in the hot stock, covered for about an hour.
When ready to serve, divide the aubergine into small plate (you can roll the slices up, see picture), pour in the dashi sauce, garnished with chopped spring onion and grated ginger, a pinch of dried bonito flakes if use. Served at room temperature or reheat the dashi sauce just before serving.