I cannot get enough of eggplant, but I do not cook it often enough. Many South East Asian eggplant dishes that I know of involve deep-frying eggplants prior to use. Whilst some say that deep frying, properly done, does not raise the fat contents of foods as much as pan frying does, I simply do not like the splatters, mess and waste that come with deep frying. So, those recipes are big no-no’s. My two favourite ways of using eggplant are to use stir-fry it with garlic and to add it to miso soup. A strong contender for my third favourite is baked eggplant tapsi. I tried eggplant tapsi at a local community event and loved every mouthful. I am yet to find a recipe for eggplant tapsi, though.
The deep, vibrant purple colour of eggplant peel comes from anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanin, which is also found in other fruits and vegetables, has been extensively researched in the past few years as it is believed to confer a myriad of health-boosting and health-maintenance properties, ranging from protection at molecular level to anti-inflammatory activity (Lila, 2004). However, anthocyanin may not necessarily be the magic bullet. Rather, its bioavailability and bioactivity may depend on the presence of other nutrients (Lila, 2004).
In a nutshell, our mothers and grandmothers had been right all along. Eat a bit of everything, eat your fruits and vegies and don’t eat the same thing over and over.
Adapted from a recipe in ‘Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking’ by Harumi Kurihara (2007)
Cut 250 g/9 oz regular tofu into bite-size pieces. Cut 150 g/5.3 oz (1 large) Asian/thin eggplant into bite-size pieces and soak in cold water for 5-10 minutes. Bring 2 cups/17 fl oz dashi stock or fish stock to boil. Drain and rinse the eggplant. Add the eggplant to the stock, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add 2½ tablespoons (3 tbsp US) awase* miso paste. Mix well. Add the tofu. Bring the soup back to a simmer and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Serve the soup with finely chopped spring onion and chilli powder.
*Awase miso is a mix of red miso (aka miso) and white miso (shiro miso).