It’s great to serve hot, at room temperature, or even cold.
For vegetarian version, use konbu dashi (note 2).
Add the Dashi Sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and put aside.
If your eggplants are thin long eggplants, cut them horizontally into two or three pieces of equal length, then cut each piece vertically in half. But if you have Japanese eggplants, just cut each eggplant vertically in half.
Place each piece of eggplant on a cutting board facing the flesh side down. Score the skin side of each piece diagonally at 5mm (3/16") intervals. The depth of the incision should be about half way. This will allow the eggplant to cook faster.
Heat oil in a frying pan or a shallow saucepan (note 3) to 180C (320F). The depth of oil should be about the thickness of eggplant or a bit shallower.
Fry eggplant pieces for about 1.5-2 minutes scored side down, then turn over and cook for 0.5-1 minute until the eggplant becomes very soft inside (note 4).
Transfer to a tray with a rack or is lined with paper towel.
Place the eggplant pieces skin side up in each serving bowl and pour the dashi sauce over them (note 5).
Sprinkle chopped shallots over the eggplant pieces, then grated ginger at the top.
1. If you can only find a fat large eggplant (see the comparison photo in the post), that's OK, too. But you need to prepare, cook, serve differently.
Preparation: Cut the eggplant horizontally into 2-2.5cm (¾-1”) thick discs. If each disc is extremely large, cut in half into semicircle shape. Also, score one side of the flesh like a grid at 1-1.5cm (⅜-⅝”) intervals, with the depth just over half way into the flesh.
Cooking: It will take a bit longer if the size of each piece is large.
Serving: Place the scored side down (see the photo in post).
2. For vegetarian, make dashi stock using konbu (kelp). Please refer to Varieties of Dashi Stock to make vegetarian dashi stock.
3. I used a 23cm (9”) frying pan and I could fry all of the eggplant pieces at once without overcrowding. But you can use a smaller frying pan or saucepan and cook them in batches.
4. Using cooking chopsticks or tongs, gently squeeze the eggplant piece. If it squashes easily, it is cooked through.
5. If you feel that the eggplant skin is a bit tough (this can happen when fried too long or the eggplant is very large), soak the eggplant in the Dashi Sauce, scored side down, before serving, for 30 minutes or more. Then plate them as per the instruction.