The Secret to the Perfect Japanese Eggplant Recipe – Agebitashi

Discover the secret and how to make a delicious Japanese eggplant “Agebitashi” recipe that no one has told you about before!

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The secret to cooking the perfect Japanese eggplant is dipping the eggplant in a subtly sweet tasting dashi, but no one seems to tell you about this trick. Learn more about this secret and how to make delicious Japanese eggplant recipes, not just nasu dengaku (miso-glazed eggplant). This post is sponsored by On the Umami society in Japan.

Japanese agebitashi eggplant recipe is served in a shallow round bowl

What is Japanese Eggplant Recipe – Agebitashi?

Agebitashi is a Japanese cooking method that involves using fresh seasonal ingredients, frying them in oil, then dipping them in seasoned dashi stock or mild vinegar while hot. Japanese eggplants (Nasu) are a popular vegetable for making agebitashi called Nasu agebitashi. This is a savory but subtly sweet dish with an umami taste that goes well with rice and all meats. You can garnish it with ginger, shiso leaves, grated daikon radish, bonito flakes, sesame seeds or green onions.

You will love this Agebitashi

Because this Japanese side dish is easy and simple to make. I will guide you step by step.

It can be cooked in less than 30 minutes, making it a perfect little dish to whip up when you’re short on time.

Freshly served Nasu agebitashi will melt in your mouth. The eggplant absorbs all the delicious flavors of the dashi broth.

This Japanese eggplant recipe can be made ahead and soaked in dashi broth overnight. This way the eggplant absorbs even more of the flavorful broth.

Japanese Eggplant Recipe Ingredients

eggplant

Frying oil

Dashi – I will discuss this further down with my recommendation

Mirin – if you don’t have this ingredient, see the Japanese substitution post here.

Sugar

Soya sauce

Ginger and shiso leaves for garnish

Japanese eggplant recipe Agebitashi ingredients - eggplant, dashipack, soy sauce, mirin and sugar

Why use Japanese eggplant for Agebitashi?

The reason why Japanese eggplant (nasu) is used for agebitashi is that eggplant is supposed to be compatible with oil because oil disguises the astringent taste of eggplant. In addition, eggplant violet pigment is an anthocyanin-based pigment that dissolves easily in water. So, when eggplants are cooked at 100°C or less, such as simmering and boiling in water, it causes discoloration of the vegetable. High temperature frying will keep its beautiful purple color.

Importance of Dashi for this recipe

This Japanese eggplant recipe is very simple. Since the dish is so simple, using quality dashi is more important than ever. Eggplant doesn’t have much flavor, so the way to savor this dish is through the eggplant’s melty texture and the subtly sweet and flavorful dashi broth filled with umami components.

Allow me to introduce my favorite go to dashi pack from “On the Umami”. On the Umami makes a delicious and easy to use dashi pack brimming with the essence of umami that they have put at the forefront of their product. Focusing on the umami components of Japanese ingredients, they created a dashi pack that enhances each dish and enriches the intricacies of Japanese culture and cuisine. I often use dashi packs for cooking because it’s quick and easy but still full of flavor.

Umami dashi pack three kinds on the kitchen table

How to make agebitashi?

Prepare the dashi mix for dipping the fried Japanese eggplant. I used “On the Umami” All rounder Dashi Pack (bonito and kelp).

Prepare the Dashi broth: Pour 2 cups of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place a sachet of On the Umami in boiling water. Shake the bag about 5 times and simmer for a few minutes over medium heat. Remove the dashi packet and use half the dashi for this recipe.

make dashi stock from dashi pack in 4 pictures

Prepare the sauce for dipping the eggplants. Put the dashi, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, turn off the heat when it boils. Set it aside in a container to use for dipping eggplant.

Japanese eggplant recipe process in 4 pictures

Cut eggplant: Japanese eggplant is small in size. If you can get it you can cut it in half lengthwise, although I only find large eggplants here which are about 4 times bigger in Australia. If you are in the same situation, cut the eggplant into manageable pieces. Mark the diagonal of the skin and soak in water for 10 minutes. Pat the eggplants dry with paper towel.

Fry the eggplant: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and fry the eggplant for a few minutes.

Dip: Place fried eggplant in prepared sauce. You can serve it hot or cold. Chilled agebitashi is also delicious.

Enjoy Japanese eggplants. Eggplant is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium.

Japanese eggplant recipe making process, frying eggplant and dipping in prepared sauce

Tips for Making Nasu Agebitashi

Make sure each slice of eggplant is well coated in oil or the moisture will evaporate from the eggplant and cause discoloration and staining.

FAQs

Q: Can I make it vegetarian or vegan?

A: Yes. You need to replace the dashi. Dashi can be made only from kelp (Kombu dashi) or use shiitake mushroom or Umami dahi vegetable dashi.

Japanese agebitashi eggplant recipe is served in a shallow round bowl

Japanese eggplant recipe “Agebitashi”

Discover the secret and how to make a delicious Japanese eggplant “Agebitashi” recipe that no one has told you about before!

Course: Aperitif, Accompaniment

Food: Japanese

Preparation time ten minutes

Cooking time ten minutes

Servings: 4

calories: 71calories

Author: Shihoko | Wands Chronicles

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Instructions

dipping sauce

  • Place a cup of dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and set aside.

fried eggplant

  • Cut off the tops of the eggplants then cut the eggplants in half lengthwise.

  • Score the eggplant skin diagonally at 0.2 inch (5 mm) intervals.

  • After scoring the skin, again cut the eggplant halves in half lengthwise.

  • Soak the cut eggplant pieces in water for 10 minutes.

  • Heat enough oil to coat the eggplant pieces in a deep skillet.

  • Dry the moisture from the eggplant pieces with a paper towel.

  • Fry the eggplant pieces for 2-3 minutes.

  • Remove the eggplant pieces from the oil and place them on paper towels on a wire rack.

  • Soak the eggplant pieces in the prepared sauce in a container for at least 1 hour.

  • Garnish with grated ginger and chopped shiso leaves before serving.

Remarks

*1 I used the Umami dashi pack, if you’re going to use that too, the instructions are in the post above, or you can make it from scratch by following this recipe, or following your instant dashi pack.
*2, 3 If you don’t have soy sauce, see substitution options in “Japanese Food Substitution”

Nutrition

calories: 71calories | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated fats: 1g | Monounsaturated fat: 1g | Sodium: 1015mg | Potassium: 343mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 29UI | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 31mg | The iron: 1mg