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Grilled Eggplant Simmered in Dashi

Grilled Eggplant Simmered in Dashi

Learn how to make a simple and fantastic Japanese eggplant dish inspired by Chef Yoshihiro Murata's Kaiseki cookbook. This eggplant recipe includes grilling, simmering in dashi, and accenting with freshly grated ginger for a flavorful, umami-packed dish.

I found some beautiful (or, "byu-DEE-ful," as they like to say here in my homeland of Brooklyn) Japanese eggplants at the local market, so I started digging through my notes and cookbooks for ideas on how to prepare them. In Chef Yoshihiro Murata's phenomenal book, Kaiseki, on page 114, he describes an eggplant-and-simmered-herring dish. When I checked out the technique, I thought it would be interesting to pull out the eggplant component and prepare it on its own. I do this a lot, by the way, with cookbooks that describe fine, elaborate restaurant cuisine -- you often can extract culinary gold from the complex recipes to serve at home.

In this dish, eggplants are first roasted on direct fire, either on a barbecue grill or on a wire grill over a stovetop flame, like I did, and then simmered in dashi to infuse them with flavor. The result is a beautiful (byu-DEE-ful) smokey, roasted flavor and fragrance from the grilling plus delicate, mouthwatering umami from the dashi. A final accent of grated ginger adds an aromatic kick. Simple, easy to prepare, and fantastic.

Grilled Eggplant in Dashi


  • 3 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 1/4 cups dashi
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons usukuchi soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger


  1. Prepare the Eggplants: Make 3 or 4 lengthwise slits in the skin of each eggplant to facilitate grilling.

  2. Grill the Eggplants: Place the eggplants on a wire grill over high heat (either on a stovetop burner or an outdoor grill). Roast, turning frequently, until the skin chars and the flesh becomes soft. Test doneness by gently pressing the eggplants.

  3. Peel the Eggplants: After cooling slightly, peel off the charred skin carefully, ensuring not to remove the flesh. Cut the eggplants into bite-size pieces.

  4. Prepare the Broth: In a medium saucepan, combine dashi, usukuchi soy sauce, and mirin. Adjust the flavor to taste with additional soy sauce or mirin as needed to achieve a balance of savory and sweet.

  5. Cook the Eggplants in Broth: Place the eggplant pieces in a single layer in the saucepan, covering them with the liquid. Use an otoshibuta (or a piece of aluminum foil with slits cut into it to mimic one) to cover the eggplants directly. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

  6. Serve: Carefully transfer the eggplants to a serving bowl to avoid breaking them. Drizzle with a teaspoon of the cooking liquid and garnish with freshly grated ginger. Serve at room temperature.