All the flavor with none of the price!

Eggplants are a summer vegetable said to be one of the easiest for beginner gardeners to grow, and because this vegetable likes high humidity and high temperatures, it thrives in Japan’s hot and humid summers. Our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma, in between test-driving fancy cars and taste-testing food around Japan, is growing some himself this year, and a friend told him a great recipe for cooking eggplant that’s delicious, easy, and healthy!

It’s called “Kabayaki-don”, a name usually reserved for rice bowls topped with eel glazed in a soy-based sauce. But replacing the eel with eggplant is far cheaper, and it really soaks up the sweet and spicy sauce for a delicious vegetarian substitute. You can order it at some restaurants, but it’s also super easy to make. Here’s how.

Step 1: Prepare as many eggplants as you want for your servings. Masanuki decided that two Japanese eggplants, which are long and thin, were enough for him.

Step 2: Remove the stems…

Peel each eggplant…

And wrap them separately in plastic wrap.

Step 3: Microwave the eggplants for 4 minutes (for two at 600 watts).

Step 4: In the meantime, prepare a bowl of ice water, and then make the sauce.

The sauce contains equal parts sugar, soy sauce, and mirin. Masanuki’s friend said to use two tablespoons each for one serving.

After some testing, Masanuki found that he liked it slightly less sweet, so he reduced the sugar to one tablespoon. The exact combination is up to you.

Step 5: Once the microwave is done, put the piping hot eggplant, still wrapped, in the ice water you previously prepared.

The ice water will make it easier (and cooler) to peel the plastic wrap off.

Step 6: Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise…

Then slice along the halves to create two grooves.

Using your fingers, open each groove up so that the slice lies flat.

Step 8: Heat some oil in a pan (Masnauki used neutral salad oil) and fry the eggplant slices on both sides.

Step 9: Once they’re nice and brown, add the sauce to the pan and allow the eggplants to broil in it.

Flip the slices for even distribution.

Step 10: Lay your nicely broiled eggplant slices over a bed of rice…

…then dress with green onions, white sesame seeds, and sansho pepper as desired.

And voila, it’s ready!

It looked exactly like eel kabayaki, but it was super easy and cheap to make. Though of course it didn’t taste like eel, it was equally delicious, and Masanuki was super glad his friend taught him this recipe.

If you’ve never tried eggplant before, or can’t find a way to cook it that makes it taste good to you, then you should definitely try this recipe. It’s so tasty, even kids would like it! And if you’re growing a ton of eggplants in your kitchen garden, this is a great way to use them. You can also try eggplant jam, which we promise tastes a lot better than it sounds.

Images © SoraNews24
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