Fish Sauce-Simmered Eggplant (Nasu No Kaiyaki)

June 11, 2015
1 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

My friends Kunikatsu and Mikako Seto served us a dead-simple dish of eggplant simmered in a whisper of broth. The heavenly broth was flavored with konbu, local mackerel fish sauce, and sake. Eggplant and fish sauce are a perfect match, since the bland eggplant always seems to want some punch. In the winter, Japanese leeks (negi) or thinly sliced daikon are used in place of the eggplant. You can also simmer chunks of peeled potatoes in the leftover simmering juices.

From Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen, by Nancy Singleton Hachisu/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC

Photos (c) Kenji Miura —Nancy Singleton Hachisu

What You'll Need
  • 6 Japanese eggplants, about 1 1/3 pounds (600 grams)
  • one 4-inch/10-centimeter square konbu
  • 3 tablespoons Japanese fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • Zest of 1 yuzu or 1/2 Meyer lemon, slivered
  1. Slice the eggplants down the middle lengthwise and cut crosswise on the diagonal into 5/16-inch (7-millimeter) pieces. Discard the tip ends. Soak the eggplant pieces in a bowl of cold water to remove the bitterness while you prepare the simmering water and six small bowls.
  2. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring the konbu and 2 cups water to a simmer. Flavor the broth with the fish sauce and sake and simmer for 1 minute. Working in batches (a total of 3), throw in a large handful of eggplant and a pinch of slivered yuzu peel. As soon as the water comes back to a rollicking boil, skim out the eggplant and yuzu slivers into each of the prepared bowls and ladle in a tiny bit of the broth. The eggplant should be half raw and pleasantly springy. The broth should have a faint whiff of the sea. Give each person a pair of chopsticks and serve hot as a quick afternoon pick-me-up snack. Cook more as you go.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nancy Singleton Hachisu
    Nancy Singleton Hachisu
  • Jb Patterson Ann Benioff
    Jb Patterson Ann Benioff
  • HappyHugs
  • arad
Nancy is the author of Preserving the Japanese Way and Japanese Farm Food.

8 Reviews

Nancy S. August 28, 2015
Hi HappyHugs. Japanese fish sauce is made from any number of fish (or shellfish) when they are plentiful. but the most common kinds available commercially are made from iwashi (sardine/anchovy), sandfish, mackerel, or squid. As a global term, fish sauce in Japanese is gyosho or uoshoyu. Regionally it is called shottsuru In Akita prefecture and ishiru or ishiri in Ishikawa prefecture. These days those are the two main fish sauce–producing areas of Japan. Currently, Japanese fish sauce is very difficult to find in the Ul.S. but we are working hard to change that. Thanks, Nancy
HappyHugs August 28, 2015
Thank you for the excellent explanation Nancy S. H.
HappyHugs August 28, 2015
Sounds delicious, but I am curious about "Japanese fish sauce"; what is that? What would it be called in Japanese??
arad August 17, 2015
um, if any deliveries can arrive to your doorstep, you most certainly can get kombu. it's dried seaweed which preserves and transports easily. maybe check your favorite online market?
Nancy S. August 11, 2015
Hi Connie, Sorry for the delay. I was sleeping when all this hit! Konbu is kelp and nori is laver, so completely different things. If you cannot get Maine dried kelp, then my advice is to check out Gold Mine Natural Food Co. for the konbu--it is such a beautiful ingredient to have in your kitchen: Hope this helps (and thanks for chiming in JbPatterson Ann Benioff!). Nancy
Connie T. August 11, 2015
It would be nice to know what konbu is. I love the other ingredients and want to make this, but I am at a standstill with the konbu.
Jb P. August 11, 2015
Connie, It's a dried seaweed. Broad deep green leaves, also spelled kombu.
Connie T. August 11, 2015
I can't get that in northern Maine. All I can get it nori. Is that okay?