Recipe: Japanese sweet and sour aubergine*

*or eggplant, or brinjal, or nasu or whatever

No, it's not a big aubergine - it's just a freakishly small hand

Aubergines were the great revelation of 2011; up until that point I’d spent most of my days largely unbothered by them. It took a dish similar to this to make me change my mind and realise the smoky, meaty goodness – prompting a two-week bhaingan-binge in India.

This one is Japanese storecupboard-tastic – as a rule, if you’ve got dashi granules, soy sauce, rice vinegar and mirin you’re pretty much good to go on most Japanese dishes. This makes fine use of all of the above and is an easy side-dish to go with Japanese or Chinese food (I had mine with Gingery Pig).

And yes, I know it’s not in season – you’ll just have to apologise to Valentine Warner on my behalf.

Sweet and sour aubergine

Makes a small side for 3-4 people

Ingredients

1 x medium aubergine

3 x tbsp rice vinegar

1 x tbsp light soy sauce

3 x tbsp dashi

1 x tbsp mirin

1/2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp sesame oil

Japanese chili oil (rayu)

1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

Method

1. Chop the aubergine into large chunks and soak in a bowl of salty water for 20 minutes (this helps stop them absorbing too much oil when you cook)

2. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper

3. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, dashi, sugar and mirin and set aside

4. In a wok, fry the aubergine until soft (but not yet crispy)

5. Pour over the sauce and cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly until the juices are absorbed.

6. Pour the sesame oil and chili oil (as desired) and heat only for a minute before serving with sesame seeds on top.

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