Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My orientalist adventure with eggplant

We just got Memoirs of a Geisha from Netflix and it's put me in the mood for fake Japanese. According to my limited experience as a diner and my one Japanese cookbook, one of the most essential ingredients in Japanese cooking is a stock called dashi. This is usually made with bonito (a kind of fish) flakes and kombu seaweed.

Darn it if I wasn't out bonito flakes, but I did get a package of dried seaweed salad and I had some Thai fish sauce -- anchovies are not at all like bonito, but fish is fish, right? So I put together a little saute by heating some chopped ginger in sesame oil, adding 2 T soy sauce, 1 t fish sauce and 1 T mirin (rice wine), and cooking two peeled and chopped medium-sized eggplants. I added the liquid from the tofu package (why not), and when the eggplant was cooked I added in the chopped tofu as well. I lowered the heat and covered just long enough for the tofu to cook. Then I tossed with the rehydrated seaweed salad, chopped scallions and some toasted sesame seeds.

It actually tasted Japanese-ish! It must have been the seaweed. Lane's comment was "why must you torture me in this manner?" He hates eggplant. I keep trying to find new ways to cook it so he'll like it because I'm a big fan. As for Jasper, he loved the rice, liked the seaweed, tolerated the eggplant, and rejected the tofu. What can I do -- sometimes you bomb with your audience but you've got to follow your vision.

Anyway, if this isn't tempting see what's cooking at culinarian, where a friend of mine contributes. It's brand-spankin' new, so give them a few days. And check out the recipe for a berry tart and charming essay by Dave in the Great Whatsit.


ticklethepear said...

No eggplant?! Would he like this?


I prefer recipe #2.

Co said...


I was going to drop you an email and let you know about Culinarian but it all happened kind of fast. I hope you are indeed flattered by the reference. I feel like etiquette would've been to ask first, so apologies if I was ill-mannered.

If you can find a way to make eggplant that Lane will eat, I'm all ears. My wife, Lo, HATES eggplant, although she did once eat my eggplant parmesan. But I haven't tried since then. Two of her friends tell us about the evils of nightshades that are slowly poisoning us--and eggplant is a nightshade--so that doesn't encourage Lo to try it either. I couldn't go through life avoiding nightshades. My ancestors were bred on the potato. Nightshades just can't be that bad for us, IMO.

Adriana Velez said...

Tickle, it's the "cook until mushy" part that makes Lane sqirm; he hates what he calls the "slimy" texture of well-cooked eggplant. Maybe if I tried the 2nd version slighty undercooked -- lots of other ingredients that cleverly disguise the eggplant!