Grilled Eggplants, Japanese-Style (Yakinasu)

Grilled Japanese Eggplants with Soy Ginger Dip and Bonito Flakes

This Japanese treatment for eggplants turns the spongy fruit — I thought it was a vegetable — into creamy morsels that lend itself well to the simplest of seasonings. Serving as its own cooking vessel, the purple berries are grilled until charred while steaming from the inside. The whole eggplants will expand and sputter as it releases steam through its pricked skin. It’s done just as it collapses into a wrinkled mass looking black as charcoal on the outside but smooth as custard on the inside.

Slice the peeled eggplants so that it resembles sashimi or eel from 10 feet away to alleviate boredom and ensue hilarity. Depending on who’s around, reactions can range from delight to disgust, culminating in either disappointment or sighs of relief once revealed that it’s just frickin’ eggplant. I know I’d think twice about having raw fish from someone’s apartment kitchen.

Weekend Herb Blogging
Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Katie of Thyme for Cooking

recipe adapted from Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

Grilled Japanese Eggplants
焼きなす (Yakinasu)

serves 2 as a side dish

Japanese Eggplants

2 – 3 whole Japanese eggplants (or any varietal), about 1 pound
vegetable oil
soy sauce
juice of freshly grated ginger or lemon wedges
dried bonito flakes /katsuo-bushi (optional)

Instructions:

Prepare a grill or preheat a broiler. Brush the eggplants with vegetable oil and prick the skin with a fork or skewer to allow steam to escape. Prepare a large bowl filled with cold water.

Grill or broil the eggplants for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning frequently until the eggplants are charred and slightly wrinkled.

Charred Grilled Japanese Eggplants

Remove from the grill and plunge in the bowl of cold water briefly. Peel the eggplants and discard the skin.

Grilled and Peeled Japanese Eggplants

Cut the eggplants into bite-sized pieces.

To Serve:

Serve with soy sauce with either the juice of freshly grated ginger or lemon wedges. Garnish with dried bonito flakes if desired.

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45 Responses to “Grilled Eggplants, Japanese-Style (Yakinasu)”

  1. katie says:

    Hilarious! I don’t see these long, skinny eggplants here. Our friend in Spain puts the fat round ones just inside his wood burning stove and lets them roast there. Similar result… But his aren’t nearly as pretty as these!

  2. grace says:

    i’ve never seen eggplant like that either! i do love the fat ones though, and i’m always looking for new ways to flavor and prepare them. thanks for sharing this recipe, and i’ll keep my eyes peeled for the skinny guys. :)

  3. Robin says:

    “Slice the peeled eggplants so that it resembles sashimi or eel from 10 feet away to alleviate boredom and ensue hilarity.”

    Most awesome cooking directions… ever!

    last blog post: There’s good pasta, then there’s…

  4. Ensue eggplant. « FP Daily says:

    [...] Ensue eggplant. August 26, 2008, 10:19 am Filed under: Apple Pie Patis & Pâté | Tags: eggplant, grillin’ and chillin’, I’m feelin’ Japanese, squashed Grilled eggplant, Japanese style. [...]

  5. kat says:

    What an interesting way to serve eggplant. I can’t get my husband to eat the black ones but he likes these little ones.

    last blog post: A Steakhouse Dinner at Home

  6. Srivalli says:

    oh my what a beautiful blog you have..great pictures..and very lovely entry I must say!

  7. Joelen says:

    Ah, talong. My favorite is dipping them in scrambled egg and frying up… and enjoying them with some freshly steamed rice with a bit of bagoong at kamatis. Yum!

    last blog post: The Vegetarian’s 100

  8. Snackgrab » Blog Archive » Three to five servings of vegetables per day says:

    [...] Grilled Japanese Eggplants from Apple Pie, Patis and Pate. [...]

  9. Dragon says:

    How interesting! Were they hard to peel?

    last blog post: Spring Pea and Mint Soup

  10. rainbowbrown says:

    Very nice. These beautiful little eggplants are popping up all over my farmers market. Lovely and easy way to prepare them for my new after school/work days.

    last blog post: TWD Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte

  11. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    Maybe this will get me out of my eggplant-funk. They do look like albino unagi. Hee!

    last blog post: Guava! Guava! Guava! And a Guava-Jalapeño Salad

  12. daphne says:

    hilarious! hehehe. It’s hard to find skinny eggplant here too-but the fat ones r around.. still think the skinny ones taste better.
    I love your presentation in this. How cute!!

    last blog post: The sega continues…in search for the Perfect Choc Chip Cookies

  13. Meeta says:

    such a lovely and pure way to enjoy eggplant! the season is perfect for this. i’d love to know if we can make it with the regular eggplants too.

  14. clumbsycookie says:

    Oh I want those japanese eggplants! We only get the fat kind here, those look so elegant!

    last blog post: Fresh Fig Chocolate Candy Bar

  15. Jo says:

    Love your pics. My mum’s recipe is to steam the eggplants (we call it brinjals here in Singapore), mash it up, add soya sauce and sesame oil. Serve with a garnish of fried shallots and sliced green onions. Absolutely yummy as well.

    last blog post: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  16. Nate says:

    I think it looks kinda like uni. Wonder how well it would taste over sushi rice.

    last blog post: Our Top 10 Favorite Places to Eat in South Bay

  17. paoix says:

    eggplants! i love them. this is looking good!

    last blog post: Mama Patsy’s Jolly Jiffy Salad

  18. Zita says:

    Always love grilled eggplants, I personnally thought that eegplants are best eaten grilled, with soy sauce and bonito flakes… mmmh heavenly :)

    last blog post: Um Ali

  19. Tartasacher says:

    Thank you Jude for your comments in my sweet blog. Your blog is wonderful and the recipes very, very good. You are so lolvey. The event 13 of bread is fantastic

    last blog post: Evento de blog. El pan de cada mes. Pan integral con sésamo, amapola y linaza

  20. oggi says:

    One of my favorites, charred Asian eggplants with soy sauce and lime juice. Love the bonito flakes idea.

    last blog post: Omnivore 100

  21. DebinHawaii says:

    These look delicious. I see them all the time but never cook the Japanese eggplants–I might have to try this. Great photos too!

    last blog post: Shrimp Arnaud

  22. noobcook says:

    These are absolutely gorgeous … excellent photography!~

  23. Natashya says:

    First of all, I love your dipping bowl and serving boards.
    What a great way to serve eggplant, I love it!

    last blog post: Don’t Eat The Crust!

  24. Denise says:

    Eggplants are fruit … go figure … LOL! I am always looking for new ways to do something with them and these “eelie” looking guys look pretty darn good!

    Denise

    last blog post: 20 cookbooks for ONLY $20 !!!!!!!

  25. cookinpanda says:

    Great post! I actually made something very similar this week though I left the charred skin of the eggplant on. It definitely would have been better with the skin off next time. Also, i just ate it the chopped pieces with some olive oil and lemon juice. Mmm. so good.

    last blog post: Progress and repetition

  26. links for 2008-08-31 « copula’s weblog says:

    [...] Grilled Eggplants, Japanese-Style (Yakinasu) | Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté (tags: recipes japanese) [...]

  27. Ning says:

    Very creative way of presentation! Simple yet elegant. I’m sure this is delicious in its simplicity!

    last blog post: Stir Fried Seaweed (Hai Cai)

  28. Christine says:

    What an elegant dish! Quite a transformation from vegetable to unagi!

    last blog post: 145. A birthday party

  29. Kalyn says:

    Sounds like it would be delicious. I like the idea of the Bonito flakes a lot!

    last blog post: South Beach Diet Phase One Recipes Round-Up: August 2008

  30. Katie – I like those fat round ones too. It’s great grilled after slicing as well.

    Grace – Either one should work. I’m always looking for eggplant recipes as well.

    Robin – Fun stuff :)

    Kat – Just peel the black ones and he won’t notice :)

    Srivalli – Thank you!

    Joelen – Haven’t done tortang talong in a while. I have a recipe with ground pork.

    Dragon – The eggplant skin just flaked off after grilling.

    Rainbowbrown – I feel like a kid in the candy store at farmer’s markets. So many colors I get woozy.

    JS – Looks kinda fishy like that.

    Daphne – Didn’t think the skinny ones would be hard to find in certain places. I guess the most common one is the round type.

    Meeta – Any type of eggplant would work great. Just adjust the broiling / grilling depending on the size.

    Clumbsy – I need to do a side by side comparison and see if there’s a big taste difference.

    Jo – Thanks! Your mom’s recipe sounds good with steamed rice.

    Nate – I was going to make sushi rice for this. Maybe in another post.

    Paoix – Thanks! Talong is good stuff.

    Zita – Grilling makes eggplants smell so nice.

    Tartasacher – Thanks for dropping by. Come check out the roundup when it’s online.

    Oggi – Mmm soy and lime. Simple but always delicious.

    Deb – Japanese eggplants are fun to cook with. Lots of uses.

    noobcook – Thanks!

    Natashya – It’s actually a contraption for pressing sushi rice

    Denise – Looks funky but its custardy and unmistakably Japanese.

    Cookinpanda – Sometimes I leave the skin on but I burned it too much this time. I like it when eggplants soak up olive oil.

    Ning, Christine, Kalyn – Thanks! Bonito flakes can give a nice accent to most things flavored with soy sauce.

  31. Eggplant Gratin (Gratin D’Aubergines, Provencal) : Andrea Meyers (Andrea’s Recipes) says:

    [...] Apple Pie, Patis, & Pate – Grilled Eggplants, Japanese Style (Yakinasu) [...]

  32. Liberterius says:

    Well, I guess since you applied heat to them technically this is a “recipe” but what a waste of space if someone needs to be told this sort of cuisine. As far as the mongrels who still aren’t sure what a Japanese Eggplant is, go back to Chef Boyardee.

  33. Grilled Chinese Eggplant with Garlic and Ginger Sauce : Andrea Meyers says:

    [...] Apple Pie, Patis, and Pate – Grilled Eggplants, Japanese-Style (Yakinasu) [...]

  34. kron 4 says:

    Katie – I like those fat round ones too. It’s great grilled after slicing as well.

    Grace – Either one should work. I’m always looking for eggplant recipes as well.

    Robin – Fun stuff :)

    Kat – Just peel the black ones and he won’t notice :)

    Srivalli – Thank you!

    Joelen – Haven’t done tortang talong in a while. I have a recipe with ground pork.

    Dragon – The eggplant skin just flaked off after grilling.

    Rainbowbrown – I feel like a kid in the candy store at farmer’s markets. So many colors I get woozy.

    JS – Looks kinda fishy like that.

    Daphne – Didn’t think the skinny ones would be hard to find in certain places. I guess the most common one is the round type.

    Meeta – Any type of eggplant would work great. Just adjust the broiling / grilling depending on the size.

    Clumbsy – I need to do a side by side comparison and see if there’s a big taste difference.

    Jo – Thanks! Your mom’s recipe sounds good with steamed rice.

    Nate – I was going to make sushi rice for this. Maybe in another post.

    Paoix – Thanks! Talong is good stuff.

    Zita – Grilling makes eggplants smell so nice.

    Tartasacher – Thanks for dropping by. Come check out the roundup when it’s online.

    Oggi – Mmm soy and lime. Simple but always delicious.

    Deb – Japanese eggplants are fun to cook with. Lots of uses.

    noobcook – Thanks!

    Natashya – It’s actually a contraption for pressing sushi rice

    Denise – Looks funky but its custardy and unmistakably Japanese.

    Cookinpanda – Sometimes I leave the skin on but I burned it too much this time. I like it when eggplants soak up olive oil.

    Ning, Christine, Kalyn – Thanks! Bonito flakes can give a nice accent to most things flavored with soy sauce.

  35. Dotti Holden says:

    I bought my chinese eggplant at Home depot, and growing it in our backyard. Just need to know if I can freeze it so we can have some in the winter.

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  43. Weekend Herb Blogging, The Round-Up - Thyme for Cooking Kitchen says:

    [...] have Jude, of Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté.  Jude is performing magic with eggplant.  The Grilled Eggplants, Japanese-Style is meant (maybe) to impersonate eel.  The presentation is elegant, and I, for one, would be [...]

  44. Weekend Herb Blogging, The Round-Up - Thyme for Cooking, Blog says:

    [...] have Jude, of Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté.  Jude is performing magic with eggplant.  The Grilled Eggplants, Japanese-Style is meant (maybe) to impersonate eel.  The presentation is elegant, and I, for one, would be [...]

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