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Grilled Japanese Eggplant (Yaki Nasu)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins

A very easy and delicious appetiser/side dish, Grilled Japanese Eggplant is called ‘Yaki Nasu’ in Japanese. The perfectly grilled eggplant is traditionally eaten with ginger, bonito flakes and a little bit of soy sauce. The eggplant melts in your mouth.

Omit bonito flakes to make it a vegetarian dish.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Appetiser, Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: eggplant, eggplant recipe, grilled eggplant, yaki nasu
Serves: 2 as side
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 4 small eggplants , about 100g/3.5oz each (note 1)
  • Soy sauce to serve
  • 4 tbsp bonito flakes
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • Finely chopped shallots/scallions (optional)
  1. If your eggplant has a long stem, cut it short (easier to handle grilling).

  2. Place a knife crosswise at the top of each eggplant, just below where the fruit starts. Then move the knife around the eggplant to make a shallow incision (see the photo in the post).
  3. Place the eggplants on a grill net over a stove or BBQ grill grates (note 2).

  4. Cook for about 10 minutes. Rotate the eggplants occasionally to cook all around the surface of the eggplants. Part of the eggplant skin should get burnt.
  5. When the inside of the eggplant is soft, transfer to a cutting board.

  6. Starting from the top of the eggplant where you made an incision around the eggplant, peel the skin off. It is easier to do this while still hot.
  7. Cut the tip off, then cut the flesh into bite size pieces (note 3).
  8. Plate the eggplant, topped with bonito flakes and grated ginger. If using shallots, sprinkle over it.
  9. Serve with soy sauce while hot, at room temperature or even chilled (note 4).

  10. Pour soy sauce over and eat with some toppings.
Recipe Notes

1. Small eggplants are perfect to make Yaki Nasu because of the way Yaki Nasu is grilled and served. If you can find Japanese eggplant, that would be the best. Otherwise, try smaller eggplants with the thickness of no larger than 4cm/1½”.

Where I live, vegetable shops and even supermarkets do sell thin eggplants, which can be anywhere between 10-15cm/4-6” long. I use them when I make Yaki Nasu.

If you can only find a large eggplant, i.e. standard Aussie eggplant/American eggplant, you will only need one eggplant for 2-3 servings, but you will need to grill much longer to cook through the flesh.

When I grilled a large eggplant under the broiler, it took me close to 30 minutes. It is important to turn the eggplant around for faster cooking. I turned it over after 10 minutes, then after another 10 minutes, I rotated 90 degrees. Cook few minutes, then turn it over to cook the other side for few more minutes.

2. I picked these heating methods so that the eggplant skin will burn nicely. You can also use a broiler/oven griller to get a similar effect. Cooking time is also similar.

You can use a griddle or frying pan as a last resort. It might take a bit longer to cook and the smokiness might be much less than the other methods, but you can still cook the eggplants through.

3. If you are making Yaki Nasu with a large eggplant, quarter the eggplant vertically first, then cut it into bite size pieces.

4. If serving your eggplants chilled, keep the grilled eggplants ready to serve in the fridge, without toppings. Add toppings at the time of serving.

5. If serving as an appetiser, one eggplant per serving should be sufficient.

6. Nutrition per serving, not including soy sauce.

serving: 206g calories: 57kcal fat: 0.4g (1%) saturated fat: 0g (0%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.2g monounsaturated fat: 0g cholesterol: 2mg (1%) sodium: 97mg (4%) potassium: 495mg (14%) carbohydrates: 13g (4%) dietary fibre: 6.1g (24%) sugar: 7.1g protein: 2.9g vitamin a: 1% vitamin c: 7.8% calcium: 1.6% iron: 2.9%