Kitchen Culture

tasty tidbits from the old-fashioned Japanese Kitchen


Eggplant Solanum melongena 茄子 NASU

Most varieties of Japanese eggplants boast tender, dark skins and nearly seedless, pale yellow-green flesh. Some varieties such as KAMO NASU 加茂なす are bulbous and squat. Others such as HAKATA 博多 or naga nasu 長なすare long and slender. True Japanese varieties have a dark calyx, not a green one.

Increasingly, Japanese eggplant are sold at Asian groceries and/or local farmer's markets throughout North America and many parts of Europe. Ideally eggplants should be stored, wrapped in newspaper, at cool room temperature; chilling them in the refrigerator will often cause them to go spongy and flabby.

To demonstrate the versatility of Japanese eggplant here are two very different dishes:

A salsa-like mixture of chopped eggplant, cucumber, okra and other vegetables called Yamagata dashi. This mixture is spooned over chilled tōfu or hot rice, or toss with noodles (thin sōmen or soba, sometimes pasta). Download the recipe.

Nasu Miso Shiru – a comforting miso-enriched broth with eggplant and scallions or ginger-like myōga. Download the recipe.