Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grilled Eggplants (Yaki Nasu)

Yaki NasuSince I moved to Louisiana, I have tried several varieties of eggplants that I had never seen before. I found them in the local farmers’ market.

My great neighbor, Janet, told me about this farmers’ market. This market opens on Saturdays at the downtown in Baton Rouge and Tuesday and Thursday in two different locations. Many local farmers sell their newly picked vegetables, fruits, and flowers and freshly harvested eggs, fishes and meats. Also baked delicious bread, cakes and deserts are available there.

Among many of the eggplants I have tasted, I particularly like two kinds. One type is a very small size of eggplants. They have white and dark purple striped skins. Because of their tiny size, it is easy to grill and bake them. I also like their taste. They have a milder flavor and less harshness than the big American eggplants or Holland eggplants I usually buy from regular markets.

The other one is a big round-shaped eggplant. Their skins are dark purple and the taste is also mild with no bitterness.

Unfortunately, I am not able to remember their names. Therefore, if some of you know their names, please kindly let me know. I would appreciate your help very much.

Grilled eggplants (yaki nasu) were essential on my family’s dinner table during summer time when I was a kid in Japan. Bonito flakes may be difficult to obtain if no Asian grocery store or Whole Foods Market is around your neighborhood. Without bonito flakes, these grilled eggplants are still delicious. This dish is very simple but flavorsome and can be a great cold appetizer.

Ingredients (2 servings):
10 small eggplants or 2 big round-shaped eggplants
2-3 tablespoons of bonito flakes
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground ginger
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

1. Wash the eggplants and dry them well.
2. Prepare the charcoal for the barbeque.
3. Grill the eggplants until they become soft and well done.
4. Remove the eggplants from the grill and transfer them to a glass bowl. Let them cool for 20 to 30 minutes and remove the skins.
5. Put the eggplants in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Place the eggplants in the serving plats. Place the bonito flakes and ginger on the top of the eggplants and pour the soy sauce and lemon juice.

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