Agebitashi means fried then soaked and that is basically what we are doing with this classic Japanese seasonal Summer vegetable dish. This recipe uses eggplant or nasu as it’s known in Japan but you could use a variety of colourful vegetables from green beans, okra, Shiitake mushrooms and zucchini to vibrant red, green and yellow bell peppers.
First you will need a kombu dashi, you can either just leave a piece of kombu over night in some water or place a piece of kombu in some water and let it simmer not boil for ten minutes. I recommend doing the latter for this as you are making a warm broth anyway to pour over the eggplant. If you do just remove the kombu before adding the rest of your broth ingredients.
It doesn’t matter what kind of eggplant you have but the long Asian variety are nice for colour and are not too fat, like the English variety.
The eggplant absorbs the flavours of the broth due to the special technique of cuts you make into the skin. This is called kakushibocho it also makes the eggplant more decorative.
First slice your eggplant in half long ways and then place each half cut side down on a cutting board. Start to make diagonal cuts across the skin of the the eggplant but do not go all the way through, make these cuts quite close together, you can even do them in a crisscrossed pattern if you wish.
Heat up some oil in a pan and fry your eggplant if they are to big you can cut them in half . You can use any neutral oil or sesame for extra flavour. Fry your eggplant for a few minutes and then transfer to a deep dish that will hold your broth. You can do the same with any other vegetables you want to use.
You will need about one cup of kombu dashi in a pan then to that add three tablespoons each of mirin, tamari or soy sauce and sushi vinegar. Turn on the heat and add one tablespoon of sugar, heat the broth to dissolve the sugar, then pour over your vegetables or just eggplant on its own what ever you have fried.
This dish is better when left for at least a few hours to absorb the flavours or in the fridge over night. If I’m wanting this as an evening meal just make in the morning and leave in the fridge all day until you want to serve it. It’s nice warm or cold .
Transfer your vegetables to a dish and pour over some broth, to serve add some refreshing grated daikon and chopped green onion.
This meal is also nice with cold noodles with the broth poured over and the vegetables on top.