I lived in Asia for five years and I’m a big fan of Japan’s flavours and techniques. This dish came about from a very traditional Japanese recipe for eggplant – grilled, peeled and dressed, then finished with togarashi, a mixed chilli seasoning. We’ve developed it a little further using local produce. 

Serves
6

Preparation

50min

Cooking

1hr
35min

Skill level

Easy
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We also make our own furikake, which gives it a great texture. We use charcoal as opposed to wood, as we find the wood results in excessive smoke. With charcoal, you tend to get an even, long-burning heat. This dish can be vegetarian if you remove the shaved bonito and flakes, which won’t affect the overall flavour too much.

Ingredients

  • 6 Japanese eggplants

Furikake

  • peel of 1 orange
  • 3 sheets premium nori
  • 12 g shaved kombu
  • 4 g shaved bonito
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1½ tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 12 g wild rice, puffed

Sesame paste

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) tahini paste
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp light soy
  • pinch of caster sugar

Ponzu dressing

  • 50 ml ponzu
  • 30 ml light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 5 g shaved bonito flakes

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.

Instructions

Draining 3 hours

Heat a large chargrill or barbecue over medium-low heat. Grill the eggplant, turning occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until charred, tender and cooked through. Set aside to cool. Once cool, peel (discard skin) and place in a fine sieve over a bowl. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours to drain excess water.

For the furikake, preheat oven to 80°C. Place orange peel on a baking tray and bake for 45-55 minutes or until dry. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until a powder. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Toast nori sheets over a gas burner by waving them 30 cm above the flame for 1-2 minutes or until crisp. Add to bowl with the orange peel powder. Increase oven to 150°C. Scatter kombu and bonito over a tray lined with baking paper, and roast for 1-2 minutes or until just toasted. Transfer to a bowl with nori and orange. Toast sesame seeds in a small frypan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, shaking, until toasted. Transfer to bowl with nori, bonito and orange and rice. Crush nori and bonito to a coarse crumb, stir to combine and set aside.

For the sesame paste, whisk together the tahini, water, soy and sugar until a thick cream consistency, adding a little extra water to reach desired consistency. Season to taste with sea salt flakes and set aside.

For the ponzu dressing, combine the ponzu, light soy, 1 tbsp water in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to the simmer. Remove from heat, add bonito and set aside for 5 minutes to infuse. Strain, discarding solids, and set aside.

Place the eggplant in a large bowl, drizzle over half the ponzu, and toss gently to coat. Taste, adding more ponzu dressing if desired. Spread sesame paste on serving plates, top with eggplant, and scatter generously with furikake to serve.

 

Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by Alice Storey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Alice Storey & Georgina Larby.

 

Pebble bowl medium in milk from Mud Australia.

 

Andrew McConnell is the famed chef and restaurateur of Melbourne's Supernormal (not to mention Cutler & Co.).