• Braised eggplant with saltbush (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

Tender fillets of eggplant coated in a Japanese-influenced sauce, making for the perfect meat-free meal.






Skill level

Average: 4.9 (52 votes)

"Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya’s) is one of the most gifted chefs working in Australia and has always loved vegetables and their versatility in a range of dishes - his favourite vegetable? Eggplant. “It can be grilled, eaten raw, marinated, cooked in salt water, burned over a flame to black or simply steamed with soy sauce added – simple but bloody good! This recipe uses some unusual ingredients such as Chinese olives and saltbush - Tetsuya has an eye for extra flavours to heighten the taste sensation of any dish. It’s safe to say that very few other recipes in the world combine herbs such as rosemary and thyme with soy sauce." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth 


  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and halved lengthways
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin sesame oil
  • handful Chinese olives, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely minced ginger
  • ½ golden French shallot, very finely chopped
  • handful chives, cut into 3 cm lengths
  • handful saltbush, very finely sliced
  • zest of ¼ lemon, cut into very fine slivers
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp finely chopped thyme
  • ½ tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 100 g tomato, roughly chopped
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp finely chopped kelp

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Sprinkle the cut side of the eggplant with salt and set aside while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the rosemary and thyme, then the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the wine. Simmer for another minute, then add the tomato. Add the stock and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the honey, season with salt and cook for a few more minutes – you want the tomatoes to break down. Check for seasoning before adding the soy sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pat the eggplant dry with paper towel. Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant, cut-side down and fry until well caramelised. 

Add the eggplant to the sauce (cut side up), increase the heat to medium-high. Cover with a cartouche with a small hole snipped out of the centre. Simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside to rest for 5 minutes, keeping the cartouche in place.

Carefully remove the eggplant from the sauce, divide among 2 serving plates and keep warm.

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, then return to a clean pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by about half. Stir in the chopped kelp and simmer for 1 more minute.

To serve, combine the Chinese olives and ginger and spoon over the eggplant. Drizzle with sauce and top with the finely chopped shallots, chives, saltbush and lemon zest. Season with pepper and serve immediately. 


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.

Brand-new series Food Safari Earth airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS then on SBS On Demand. For recipes and more visit the program site right here.