Food Forum
Vol. 36 No. 2   Summer 2022

SPIRIT OF THE SEASONS

Eggplant 茄子

Japanese eggplants

Japanese eggplants come in many sizes and shapes—from long and slender to small and round. Grown throughout the country, eggplant, called nasu in Japanese, is in season from June to September. Eggplant has a high water content of over 90 percent and contains fiber, potassium and folic acid, while its deep purple skin is rich in nasunin, a beneficial antioxidant.

Japan’s most common variety is soft-skinned and mild-flavored, about 12-15 cm / 5-6 in. long and oval-shaped with a shiny purple skin. The egg-shaped mizunasu, cultivated in the Senshu area of Osaka Prefecture, is less bitter and can be eaten raw in salads, thanks to its delicate skin and extremely soft, succulent flesh.

Sautéed eggplant with grated daikon sauce

Eggplant is one of the most versatile ingredients in the Japanese kitchen. It can be pickled, enjoyed in miso soup or grilled and served as yakinasu grilled eggplant. The flavor of eggplant is particularly enhanced when sautéed or deep-fried. Deep-fried dishes include agebitashi deep-fried eggplant in dashi sauce and nasu tempura.