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Somen with Eggplant Yakibitashi

Sautéed eggplant enhances the marinade-dipping sauce of dashi, soy sauce and mirin, making it more umami-rich than usual somen dipping sauce. Both the marinade-dipping sauce and somen are simple to prepare, making this an easy appetizer. For a more traditional Japanese taste, substitute chopped green onion for dill garnish.

(per serving)

Ingredients (4 appetizer servings)

Yakibitashi*1 marinade
  • 240 ml / 1 C dashi stock
  • 2 T+ 1 t Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 2 T+ 1 t Kikkoman Manjo Mirin
  • 5-6 small Japanese eggplants, or 1 large American eggplant, total 360 g / 13 oz.
  • 1/4 t salt, about 0.5% weight of eggplants
  • 1 1/2 T pure olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 bundles somen, each 50 g / 1.8 oz.
  • 1 knob grated ginger for garnish
  • Dill for garnish
  • Red bell pepper, thinly sliced for garnish
  • *1 C (U.S. cup) = approx. 240 ml; 1 T = 15 ml; 1 t = 5 ml


  1. 1

    Bring marinade ingredients to a brief boil in a small saucepan. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

  2. 2

    Peel the eggplant. Cut into 4 equal pieces lengthwise, then cut these into 1.2 cm / 1/2 in. thick pieces. If eggplant is large, cut into 1.2 cm / 1/2 in. cubes. Sprinkle eggplant with salt and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture.*2

  3. 3

    Heat oil over low-medium heat in a non-stick frying pan and add eggplant. Cook until lightly browned, then remove and place on a paper towel to soak up excess oil. Add the cooked eggplant to the marinade and allow to steep for up to 60 minutes.

  4. 4

    Just before serving, boil somen noodles following package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.

  5. 5

    Divide somen among four small bowls. Spoon the marinated eggplant onto the noodles and pour 3 T marinade over each serving. Garnish with grated ginger, dill and bell pepper.

  1. *1Yakibitashi is a dish of grilled vegetables or fish, typically marinated in dashi, soy sauce and mirin.
  2. *2Sprinkling with salt rids eggplant of moisture and bitterness. Removing excess moisture creates a firmer texture and prevents over-absorption of oil.

Recipe by Michiko Yamamoto

Vol. 32

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