Hearty and Healthy Eggplant Makes for a Perfect Side
Ginger adds a refreshing flavor and a nice aroma to this healthy and colorful eggplant side dish drizzled with a light Japanese style sauce. This takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare so its the perfect side to grilled fish or chicken tonight!
I’m not sure what it is about eggplant that I love so much. I am sure that I have not always loved it. My first taste of the large squishy American eggplant was unpleasant and deterred me from a second attempt for many years. I still avoid the large American eggplant simply because I find it gets too soft and resembles goo when cooked. To be fair, its large size makes it the perfect choice for Eggplant Parmigiana and the extra softness is ideal for Baba Ghanoush!
Eggplants come in a variety of shapes and sizes with colors ranging from blackish purple to striped, spotted and completely white. Regardless of size or color look for eggplants that are firm to the touch and blemish free. Choose those that have shiny skin and a crisp green stem. If the stem is dry and brown the eggplant is old and will be bitter to taste.
Eat by Color
Some people prefer to peel the skin from the eggplant believing the skin to be tough and bitter. I prefer not to take the time to peel the skin from the flesh and enjoy the contrasting textures between the skin and the softer flesh of the vegetable. I think the purple skin is intriguing and adds vibrancy to the dish and your table when it is all set and you are ready to call the squad to eat.
A colorful plate is a healthy plate and we should be aiming to include as many colors in our meals as possible. I challenge myself to use at least 3 different colors each meal. I don’t mean every single meal. We all need a break.
I am especially concerned about dinner but I did try to get lots of color inside those brown bag lunches I used to make everyday! Not including white or brown, that would have been just too easy. The more color you have on your plate directly links to more vitamins minerals and nutrients for your body. Next time you are in the produce section challenge yourself to pick up something you have never tried and take it home.
You can’t get more colorful than an eggplant. When it comes to the question “how do I slice an eggplant?”, there really is no right or wrong answer. It’s differing lengths and shapes lends itself to a variety of ways to slice and enjoy but it is wise to first consult your recipe. How you slice it will depend on the method you are going to be cooking this exotic looking vegetable.
Embrace the Eggplant
Eggplants are from the nightshade family but that doesn’t mean you should shun them. Embrace the eggplant. Make it your friend and include other members of the family at your table too. Nightshades have gotten a bad rap because there are a few shady characters that are poisonous to humans. Stay away from Belladonna! Besides the eggplant some other examples of edible nightshades are: all variety of tomatoes, white potatoes and peppers to include the chili, jalapeños and paprika.
The nightshade plants contain a chemical compound called alkaloids which can be dangerous in high doses. None of the edible nightshades contain high doses of these alkaloids so are considered safe to consume. Although it is a good idea to steer clear of white potatoes that have any green parts . If you buy a bag of Idahos and they are green don’t keep them until they ripen. Throw away the green ones or take the whole bag back to the store and get another bag. Granted you would have to eat lots of green potatoes before you really got sick but they won’t taste like you expect and you may not feel good after dinner.
Some people are more sensitive and feel their bodies react negatively after eating foods from the nightshade family. Most dietitians agree that the nightshade vegetables are beneficial to good health are nutrient rich and help reduce inflammation. Eggplant is high in potassium, fiber and folate and low in calories so I buy it often and look for interesting ways to use it when I cook.
Eggplant is a commonly used vegetable in many parts of the world including Japan. The Japanese variety is about 4 inches long and skinny much like the Chinese eggplant but less commonly found in US markets. No doubt you will find them more readily available on the West Coast as there is are larger Japanese communities living in that area. In the Asian markets where I shop in the Northern Va. area, I am able to find many variety (4-5) but I do not think I have ever seen the smaller Japanese eggplant.
For this dish I think any of the smaller sized eggplant will work equally well. You want to use about 1 pound of eggplant for this side dish which will serve 4 easily. However, if the only variety you find is the large American eggplant, I would suggest using it in a different dish.
if you prefer something with a little more kick? You will really love my Stir Fried Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.
Go buy yourself some edible nightshade and make Eggplant with Japanese Style Sauce and don’t forget to come back and leave me a comment. I love to hear what you and your family think.
Eggplant Japanese Style
- March 7, 2021
- 10 min
- Print this
- 3 chinese eggplant, sliced
- 2 T fresh ginger, slivered
- sauce: 1 t sugar
- 1T soy sauce
- 1T mirin
- 1T sake
- Step 1
- Mix together sauce ingredients and set aside
- Step 2
- Heat 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan to medium high then add eggplant to pan. Make in batches if necessary be sure you don’t overcrowd the frying pan
- Step 3
- Fry eggplant in oil and turn to coat each side. Fry 4-5 minutes turning occasionally until eggplant softens and turns golden brown
- Step 4
- Add ginger to fry pan and cook til fragrant about 1 minute then add sauce
- Step 5
- Continue to cook about 1 more minute and stir to coat
- Step 6
- Remove eggplant to serving dish and pour sauce over