Monday, August 31, 2009
Asian eggplants sold in the US all tend to be of one variety: about a foot long and a couple of inches in diameter. Here, however, there are countless variations, and almost none are anywhere near that big. The most common Japanese eggplant seems to be the knob-shaped one, about the length of my hand, but there are also perfectly round ones, ranging from the size of a softball down to about pool-ball size. These are fantastic, and seem to be used primarily, as the vehicle for the sweetened salty-miso dengaku preparation: the eggplants are sliced into thick wheels, fried until saturated with oil, painted with the sauce, and charcoal-grilled. Dengaku anything (it can also be made with tofu or the raw wheat gluten preparation known as namafu) is one of the things I order every time I see it on a menu, without exception.