If you haven't been watching Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-, I suggest you jump on that before we move in earnest into the new season of anime. To say that it's been very inspiring to me is a bit of an understatement- I've been loving every single episode. This will NOT be the last food I make from this anime.... Sorry, not sorry.
I can hear you asking me: Emily, fine, whatever, watch all the anime you want, but why are you so obsessed with this one meal Aoi made once for a couple who's not even that big of a deal???
WELL, thank you for asking. The truth is, I've always been really enraptured with kaiseki, a traditional Japanese form of dining where the guest is presented with multiple small dishes, often in courses. These meals are complex and a great way to highlight unique flavors, specific ingredients, and beautiful presentation. The problem is that kaiseki meals take a long time to make. they require a ton of ingredients, and also require multiple preperation steps just to get through so many different dishes. So, for me, who lives by myself, that kind of cooking just isn't worth it.
But, when I saw Aoi's dishes, I had no choice. This was my moment to shine. So, I took the meal and broke it down each week so I could try and appreciate each dish fully. Which brings us to this dish, the last dish I'm recreating from this kaiseki meal, the fried eggplant.
Now, eggplant comes into season in July in California, so if you happen to suddenly find your garden or grocery store overflowing with the purple vegetable, now is the time. I used Japanese eggplant here, which is a smaller variety that tends to be a little less bitter than the average eggplant. This helps both with the flavor, and the final presentation. Eggplant can be bitter if not properly prepared, so you have to soak the eggplant in water, and season well with salt to draw out any unappetizing flavors.
However, once you overcome that hurdle, the meal comes together in a snap, and tastes amazing. The eggplant, once fried up, becomes soft and melty. The crispness of the skin works well against the buttery flesh of the eggplant, and the grated daikon adds just a hint of a radishy taste. The ponzu, a citrusy soy sauce, adds brightness and tart contrast against the luxury of the eggplant.
What does all this mean? In only a few, simple steps, you can take an average eggplant and transform it into something perfect. Simple, flavorful, and fresh- perfect for a kaiseki meal or just a side dish at dinner tonight.
Click to watch the video below to see the full process!
(Makes 2 servings)
-2 small Japanese Eggplants
-1 6 inch piece of daikon
1. Half the eggplant and score the back decoratively. Soak in water for 30 minutes.
2. Pat dry and cut halves into half again (so the eggplant is quartered). Heat a pan to medium high heat, and oil pan well. Once hot, place eggplant in skin side down and fry about 3 minutes. Season with salt.
3. While frying, grate daikon using a grater, and prepare perilla leaves with a chiffonade cut.
4. Flip eggplant so that all sides can fry evenly. Remove from pan when skin is dark and eggplant is soft. Let cool slightly, and cut into two inch pieces.
5. Arrange nicely on a plate, and top with grated daikon, a splash of ponzu, and shredded perilla leaf.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Check in next week for another recipe. To check out more anime food recipes, visit my blog. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below! I recently got a Twitter, so you can follow me at @yumpenguinsnack if you would like, and DEFINITELY feel free to send me food requests! My Tumblr is yumpenguinsnacks.tumblr.com. Find me on Youtube for more video tutorials! Enjoy the food, and if you decide to recreate this dish, show me pics! :D
In case you missed it, check out our last dish: Hot Tub Tamago from "Kakuriyo-Bed and Breakfast for Spirits-". What other famous anime dishes would you like to see Emily make on COOKING WITH ANIME?