There are other two eggplant recipes in this online collection that use the same cooking method as the recipe below — Eggplant Spread, Odessa Style and Georgian Eggplant Pkhali. Charring eggplants on grill, open fire, under the broil/salamander, or inside special kitchen devices (e.g., Bulgarian chushkopek) is known and widely used around the world for a reason. Burning and peeling off skin definitely improves the texture of grilled vegetables, but more than anything we crave for that sweet smokiness added to the eggplant flavor. The beginning and the basics are the same — grill, peel, slice/chop/mash. Sauces, spices, herbs, seeds, nuts, and other added vegetables make the difference, turn grilled eggplants into a dish that belongs to a specific cuisine.
This version is the laziest way to serve Japanese grilled eggplants — with store-bought sauce and toppings. There is a number of Japanese sauces that are great with grilled eggplants, and okonomi is one of them. Commercial or homemade, they all include fruit and vegetables purees, sweet syrups, brewed vinegars, soy sauce, spices, and seafood/seaweed/mushroom extracts. They are an intense combination of sweet and savory and packed with umami. Usually, they are not hot. If you want to add some heat to the dish, add some shichimi togarashi or ground sanshō to the topping. Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish. There are many types of furikake available in asian stores. It becomes so popular, you can now find it in Asian food section of many supermarkets.
Other sauces include:
- Soy sauce + grated fresh ginger
- Soy sauce, key lime juice, and green or red yuzu kosho
I like adding a little bit of sake, mirin, and sesame oil to my sauces.
Other toppings include:
- Chopped green onions or chives
- Katsuo (Bonito) flakes
- Black and white toasted sesame seeds
- Dry chopped seaweed
In Austin, all ingredients are available at Asahi Imports and other Asian grocery stores.