Summer Vegetable Agedashi
Maybe you’ve heard of agedashi tofu-- a dish popular in izakaya and Japanese restaurants. Agedashi tofu features a deep-fried tofu soaked in a delicious, delicate dashi broth, topped with grated daikon, scallion, and bonito flakes. Agedashi eggplant is a dish in the same vein, but with succulent deep-fried eggplant instead of tofu. The eggplant does a wonderful job of not only absorbing the flavor of the oil, but also the taste of dashi it’s soaked in, making it soft and savory with a fatty edge to smooth out the texture. A perfect use for a summer eggplant harvest, this dish is fairly simple and it’s tasty results will have you returning to it over and over. Although this recipe is written for eggplant, it also works well with other deep-fried summer vegetables, such as zucchini and shishito pepper! Try it using our fresh summer vegetables, all organically grown in Delaware at Suzuki Farm, found in our produce section!
Agedashi Summer Eggplant
Prep time:15 minutes (not including eggplant soaking time)
Cook time:15 minutes
Total time:1 hour, 30 minutes
2 Japanese eggplants
2 cups neutral-flavored oil (canola oil works well) for deep-frying
3-inch piece of daikon radish
1 green onion/scallion
1 inch fresh ginger
1 handful of dried bonito flakes
¾ cup dashi stock
3 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp ryorishu cooking sake
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 heaping tbsp white sugar
In a deep-walled frying pan or saucepan, bring the oil to 320 degrees fahrenheit. You can check the temperature by either using a cooking thermometer or by inserting a pair of chopsticks into the oil. If small bubbles come out from the chopsticks, the oil is at the appropriate temperature.
Discard the stem of the eggplant and cut in half long-ways. Score the skin of the eggplant with the tip of the knife by cutting closely spaced diagonal slits through the skin, but no more than halfway through the depth of the eggplant. This will increase the surface area and allow the eggplant to absorb more flavor from the broth and the oil.
Cut each eggplant half into 3-4 pieces, and deep-fry, skin facing down, for 2-2.5 minutes. Unless your pan is very large, don’t try to fry the entire eggplant at once. Instead, fry in batches of 4-5 pieces (or however many will fit in the frying pan without touching or overlapping) at a time.
After frying, transfer the eggplant pieces to a wire rack and allow them to cool.
Combine the dashi stock (homemade dashi is wonderful for this, but an appropriate dilution of kappo shiradashi also works very well), mirin, cooking sake, soy sauce, and sugar together in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Transfer the eggplant to a walled container or dish (a casserole dish will do this job perfectly) and pour the heated sauce mixture over top. Allow the eggplant to soak in the sauce for AT LEAST one hour. The longer the eggplant soaks, the more flavor it will absorb.
While the eggplant is soaking, peel and grate the daikon and ginger, and thinly slice the scallion keeping each in a small separate dish.
Once the eggplant is ready, serve in a small bowl with some of the sauce poured over top. Garnish the eggplant generously with daikon, ginger, scallion and enjoy!