Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Raw "Mizunasu" eggplant 生の水茄子

I mentioned that the types of eggplant available in Japan are quite different from those available here. To my surprise, we found two kinds of Japanese eggplant in our Japanese grocery store; "Mizunasu" 水茄子 ("mizu" means water and "nasu" eggplant) and "Kamonasu" 加茂茄子. I assume these were imported from Japan. Although we saw several Kamonasu in the refrigerated case, only one mizunasu was remaining (left in the image below). Although it did not look particularly great (middle), I decided to get it. This is a type of eggplants which is so mild that it can be eaten "raw", although "asazuke" 浅漬けpreparation is the most popular way to serve it. I decided to make half of it in asazuke and serve the remaining half "raw".

Since the skin had some blemishes, I peeled the skin in a "zebra" pattern using a vegetable peeler. I removed the stem end and cut into the top portion of the eggplant for about one inch and then tore it in half by hand. I did this to make a more irregular cut surface (both to increase the exposed surface as well as for aesthetic reason). I repeated this several time to make thin wedges and soaked them in weak salted water (about the saltiness of a soup). This prevents the eggplant from discoloring. It also takes out some of the bitterness and seasons it lightly. I kept it soaking until I was ready to serve (for about 15 minutes, images above right).
After 15 minutes, the water became slightly brown. I patted the pieces dry with a paper towel and arranged them on a plate. The garnishes and sauce can be anything you like. Here, I garnished it with finely chopped scallion, perilla leaves, and dried bonito flakes. For sauce, I used "yuzu shouyu" 柚子醤油 sauce from the bottle. Alternatively, you could use soy sauce, mentsuyu, sesame sauce or even mayonnaise (straight or mixed with other seasonings).

You would be surprised how mild and slightly sweet this raw eggplant is. The only problem is that getting mizunasu is not easy or consistent. It was totally fortuitous that it was available this time.

No comments: