Japanese Fried Eggplant! 茄子の揚げだし! #VegFlavorBible

Veggies are a very important part of each meal at our house and we always have a minimum of two veggies on the dinner plate and often times more! We have our go-to veggies like carrots and broccoli that we have pretty often and regularly since they are very much so enjoyed by the little ones who generally manage to eat them “by the truck loads!” But we also enjoy finding new preparations to enjoy the veggies that we don’t often see on our plates. Eggplant is one the veggies that we really enjoy eating but don’t seem to use them as a side vegetable hardly at all – most often, they become the star of the dish, which will be vegetarian since eggplant tends to be a very hearty and satiating vegetable.

One of my favorite eggplant dishes is Japanese Fried Eggplant or Nasu no Agedashi, which means that the eggplant is first fried then steeped in a vinegar based sauce which marinates it with flavors as well as enhancing its natural flavors in a way that will have you stuffing your face with as much eggplant as you can enjoy in one sitting!

This is an incredibly addictive dish – as it is both sweet and (barely) sour, balanced in a precariously perfect fashion with just the slightest hint of spice that comes from a dried red chile. It is best enjoyed hot (although it is lovely chilled as well) over a bed of rice. It pairs incredibly well with a really rich fish like mackerel, and especially with our autumnal favorite – sanma! You can find my recipe for Grilled Sanma here! 

Today, I’m so excited to share not only this recipe for Japanese Fried Eggplant but this amazing giveaway (scroll to the end of the recipe for the Rafflecopter widget to enter!) that is sponsored by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg, the authors of “The Flavor Bible!” Eight other bloggers and I have been scheming and thoughtfully creating lovely vegetarian dishes using their newest cookbook, “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible” to guide us in finding new ways to prepare our favorite vegetables!

Meet Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, creators of the critically acclaimed book “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible”, which has been cited as one of the five best cookbooks of 2014 based on 300+ reviews in media including Bloomberg,, The Chicago Tribune, Food & Wine, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

They are not only the two-time James Beard Award Winning authors of The Flavor Bible and Becoming a Chef, but also coauthored What to Drink with What You Eat, which was named the IACP Cookbook of the Year and the Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year, while also winning a Gourmand World Cookbook Award.

It goes without saying that Karen’s credentials are exemplary. In addition to holding degrees from Northwestern and Harvard, she earned a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell, so it is little wonder that critics are praising her invaluable knowledge and contribution to a healthier and more flavorful approach to food and nutrition!

Karen and Andrew are teaming up with 9 food bloggers to be able to reach out further and share their knowledge and talents with an even greater audience. They have offered to partner in a giveaway in order to educate and make accessible not only their latest creation, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, but also copies of The Flavor Bible and What to Drink with What You Eat! ALL of these resources are treasures that would grace the presence of any home cook’s library, but already hold places of reverence within the commercial kitchens of many chefs.

How cool is that?? Keeping that in mind, I wanted to showcase how “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible” works. It’s not a cookbook per say but rather a guide to show which flavors work best together and what you can pair and cook things with. It’s the perfect guide for creating something new with the “same old vegetable” in your kitchen! What I believe to be one of the most unique aspects to this bible is the list of “Flavor Affinities” at the end of each section. It explains in a very simple way what things to add to say, eggplant, for example, to make the perfect marriage of flavors and acts as a guide for creating a new “recipe!” It’s great for expanding your horizons with an old favorite and certainly perfect for figuring out what to do with a vegetable that you’ve never seen, cooked with or tasted before!

The Eggplant section in “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible,” is split into Eggplant and Japanese Eggplant. They both have a very unique taste and I wouldn’t make Eggplant Parmesan with Japanese Eggplants for instance. One of the Flavor Affinities for Japanese Eggplant is “+ Ginger + Soy Sauce” and it is exactly, dead-on!

For Nasu no Agedashi, or Japanese Fried Eggplant – the eggplant is fried to enhance it’s natural flavor then soaked a vinegar sauce that is comprised of dashi, soy sauce, ginger, and Japanese rice  wine vinegar. You will only have to try one bite to become completely smitten by this dish – it is really fantastic and can be enjoyed both as a side or main dish!

What to Drink with What You Eat simply pairs all the different drinks, with an emphasis on wines, that you could put with the dishes that you create so you can really have a rounded dining experience at home! For this Japanese Fried Eggplant dish, the suggested drink pairings were: Bandol, Barbera, Chianti, lemon-based drinks (e.g., lemonade, sparkling water with lemon, etc.), Pinot Noir, Full-Bodied Red Wine, Rosé, Syrah, Tannic Wines, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel.

Don’t forget to scroll to the end of the recipe to enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget! There will be one grand prize winner who will take home “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible,” but also one copy each of “The Flavor Bible” and “What to Drink with What You Eat!” and six runners up that will each take home a copy of “The Flavor Bible!”

JAPANESE FRIED EGGPLANT (NASU NO AGEDASHI)
INGREDIENTS:                                                                                                    yields 4-6 servings

  • 4-5 Japanese Eggplants
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying
  • 1/2 Cup Dashi
  • 2 TBS Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBS Mirin (sweet Japanese rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and grated (approx. 1 tsp)
  • 1 small dried Red Chile or 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Green Onions or 3-inch piece of Japanese Naga Negi (long onion), thinly sliced

Cut the ends of the eggplant off then peel three strips of eggplant skin, so that you have one section with skin on, the next without skin, the next with skin – so on and so forth until you have three stripes of purple skin alternating with three stripes of exposed flesh.

Then cut each eggplant into three equal pieces. I like to make my cuts at a diagonal because it looks more interesting this way, but you may make a straight cut if you prefer.

Next, with one section at a time, cut nearly perpendicular to your diagonal cut and make small slices, nearly all the way through, so that each section will hold together. This will allow the eggplant to be fried in a way that brings out all of its natural flavor, but also will allow for the vinegar sauce to penetrate the meat of the eggplant and also allowing ease to the future eater to break off pieces from each section.

Heat the oil in a high-sided saucepan, adding about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil. Once it is at about 325F, fry the eggplant 3-4 sections at a time just until the eggplant looses its green-ish tinge and takes on a golden brown hue. Remove the eggplant from the oil to a wire rack set over a plate lined with double thickness paper towels and let the excess oil run off as you fry the remaining sections. Repeat until all of the eggplant sections have been fried.

While you are frying the eggplant, make the vinegar sauce. In a bowl large enough to hold all of the eggplant and allow for tossing all the ingredients together, stir together the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, ginger and chile pepper (or Cayenne pepper flakes if using), until thoroughly combined. Add the thinly sliced green onion (or naga negi – if using), stir to coat the onions.

As each section of the eggplant has been drained of excess oil, but is still hot, toss in the vinegar sauce and allow it to steep there. Continue adding all the eggplant sections until they have all been added.

Toss all together a few more times, carefully so you don’t tear the tender pieces of eggplant apart and sprinkle on a tiny bit more cayenne pepper flakes and green onion slices, if desired and serve hot, room temperature or even chilled!

***ITADAKIMASU**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was sponsored by Karen Page, Andrew Dornenburg & Little Brown Publishing Company. I received compensation for this post, but all opinions are my own. Please read my Disclosure Policy for further information.

Here are the other bloggers that are participating in this rather fantastic giveaway! Be sure to stop by to enter AND see how they used “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible” to create their masterpieces! 

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