Yakinasu: Grilled Aubergines
There’s a reason you usually don’t see aubergine recipes here: sadly, I have a pretty nasty food allergy to them. It’s terrible, because I was a huge fan until they started to make me ill, about three years ago. Today, though, I’ve decided that Yakinasu is worth blogging even if I can’t have any of it for myself. So here’s a recipe I made for some dinner guests last night.
As the name suggests (Yaki=grill, Nasu=aubergine), this recipe is really simple: basically just aubergines you’ve grilled and peeled. That’s it! Simple as it is, the results will definitely surprise you: grilling eggplants this way gives them a deep, smoky, earthy taste you’re going to love.
This recipe is not difficult at all, but it does call for patience and finesse. Part of what’s challenging about it is that you need to keep those eggplants on the grill long past the point where they look basically ruined: it’s by letting the skin char completely that you get that deep, smoky flavor. The result is so delicate and delicious, I think it’s an excellent choice for guests.
- Eggplants – as many as you like
- Ginger (optional)
- Katsuobushi (optional)
- Soy sauce – at table
- Pat the whole aubergine rhythmically.
Using a kitchen roller, gently beat the aubergine’s skin, making sure to get to every part of it. This process makes it possible to to peel the eggplant relatively easily after cooking. You need a light touch, just enough to bruise the aubergine without squishing it.
- Cut a few slits in the skin of the aubergines.
This keeps them from exploding while grilling. Don’t take off the stem. You can’t eat it, but it’ll be a pretty decoration.
- Heat the grill to high temperature. (If you have a steak grill, that’ll be fine. If not, use a normal pan.)
- Place the eggplants on the grill at high heat.
- When one side blackens, turn over the eggplant. Keep turning it until all of the skin is fully charred. Don’t panic if it looks totally ruined: you’re going to peel the skin off later.
- When the eggplants fully charred, take them off the heat. You can cool them down under cold water. But, if you have time, just set them aside and allow them to cool down gradually. If you put them under water, eggplants tend to become watery.
- Peel the eggplants’ skin carefully using your hands. If the skin is fully burnt, it will be very easy to peel. Again, you need a light touch: be sure to take off only the outer layer of burnt skin.
- Place the peeled aubergine in some tupperware and set it to cool in the fridge.
- Cut the eggplant into segments. Serve fridge-cold topped with grated ginger and katsuobushi. Season with soy sauce at the table.