Grilled Eggplant and Cucumber Layers with Sesame Dressing
Layer grilled eggplants and fresh cucumbers, and top with shiso flower spikes for an exquisite appetizer. This dish is delicious but almost too beautiful to eat!
Photographed by Shin Ebisu
Calorie count is per serving.
Excludes time needed to cool down the eggplants.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 2 eggplants
- 2 cucumbers
- 200 ml water
- A little less than 1 tsp salt (4 g)
- 2 tbsp sesame paste (white)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Shiso flower spikes, as desired
- Black pepper (coarsely ground)
Cut the cucumbers lengthwise in half. Remove the seeds with a spoon and cut diagonally into 5 mm slices. Mix the salt and water to prepare 2% salt water. Soak the cucumber slices for 10 minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess moisture.
Prepare each eggplant by making an incision around the base of the calyx to remove it. Prick a hole in the bottom with the tip of a chopstick. Place a gridiron on a gas stovetop and grill the eggplants over direct heat until the skin is scorched (or simply use a toaster oven).
Grilling the eggplants over direct heat brings out an appetizing aroma and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. It's a great way to enjoy the contrast with the crisp cucumbers. Using a toaster oven will weaken the mouth-watering aroma, but the texture will be just as good.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and peel the skin. Make a deep incision down each eggplant and open like a book. Arrange the cucumber slices on a plate, then arrange the eggplants on top. (Alternatively, you may choose to lay the eggplants in a shallow, 10 cm square dish, then arrange the cucumber slices on top, and turn over onto a plate.)
Mix the [Sesame dressing] ingredients together and pour around the layered eggplant and cucumber. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste, and garnish with shiso flower spikes if available.