Food Forum
Vol. 32 No. 1  April 2018

MORE ABOUT JAPANESE COOKING

FUSION RECIPE

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.

Ingredients

Ginger
4 appetizer servings

227 kcal Protein 4.3 g Fat 3.3 g (per person)

Yakibitashi* 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

Directions

  1. Bring marinade ingredients to a brief boil in a small saucepan. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
  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.**
  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. Just before serving, boil somen noodles following package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.
  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.

* Yakibitashi is a dish of grilled vegetables or fish, typically marinated in dashi, soy sauce and mirin.
** Sprinkling 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

1 C (U.S. cup) = approx. 240 ml; 1 T = 15 ml; 1 t = 5 ml