Coconut Eggplant Katsu. Seasoned Black Rice.Aubergine. Such a lovely word to say. Melanzane. Nasu. They all mean the same thing.
Today Kid and I are taking one of our market stall favourites and turning it vegetarian.
We love this dish and we love eggplant. They’ll make a great combination.
The thing with eggplant is, when you get it right it is a thing of beauty.
Soft, smokey and velvety.
Muck it up and it can ruin your day.It’s pretty hard to muck up when cooked this way.
Crumbed, fried and covered in curry sauce. And you’ve probably already got some of the ingredients in the cupboard.Coconut Crusted Eggplant
2 Small to medium eggplants. Look for firm flesh and shiny skin.
2 cups panko crumbs, 1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup milk and 2 eggs, beaten well.
2 cups plain flour.
Canola or sunflower oil for shallow frying. Allow 2 cups as the eggplant is very thirsty.HOW
Turn the oven to 180*c. Slice the eggplants into 1 cm discs. Dust in the flour, dip in the milk wash, roll in the crumbs, pressing them firmly to the eggplant. Shallow fry on a medium – high heat until golden on both sides. The coconut will burn easily if the heat is too high. Drain well on kitchen towel, season and finish in the oven for about 5 minutes to ensure the flesh is soft and silky. Serve with curry sauce and rice. Also delicious served cold with some Japanese mayo and salad.
Japanese curry is available in packets from supermarkets. Just follow the instructions.
However they will most likely contain MSG (as does the mayo) which you can make your own mind up about.
Our easy home-made version does not.
Simple Golden Curry Sauce – (makes enough for the eggplant and some extra)
1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped red capsicum, 1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 apple – cored and grated
3 cloves garlic – smashed, 1 tablespoon shredded ginger
2 tablespoon tomato sauce/ketchup, 1 tablespoon light soy.
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup apple juice
1 cup vegetable stock.HOW
Sweat the vegetables in a pot with a little oil. Add the apple and curry powder, cook until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender. Puree until smooth. Serve. Regular Japanese curries are thickened with flour and the vegetables left whole. We have omitted the flour and used the vegetables as the thickening agent. We make gravy in the same way.
This style of dish would normally be served with fluffy white rice. It’s great for soaking up the sauce.
Our eggplant fritters will do a good job of that themselves.
We’re serving some seasoned black rice as a side dish instead. It is far chewier and nuttier and a slightly purple colour when cooked.
Seasoned Black Rice
2 cups black rice (not the sticky Thai stuff nor wild rice)
2 tablespoons white sesame, 1 tablespoon black sesame, 1 tablespoon dried seaweed
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon mirin, 1 teaspoon raw sugar, 1 teaspoon sea salt.
2-3 golden shallots – peeled and sliced fine.HOW
Boil the rice in plenty of lightly salted water for about 35 minutes. Strain.
In the mean time, saute the shallots in a little oil with a pinch of salt until brown. Toast the sesame and seaweed gently in the oven on 140*c for about 15 minutes. Grind in a mortar and pestle with the salt and sugar. Add this to the just cooked rice with the vinegar, mirin and shallots and combine well. Serve warm.What Kid Did.
Kid loves wakame and I love salad. So Cucumber, Seaweed and Sesame Salad is a lovely if perhaps unnecessary addition. Chopped cucumber, wakame, toasted sesame, sliced spring onions and fresh lime.Busy Kid today. She’s big enough now(11!) to be left at the stove to saute shallots and look after the curry sauce. So good to have a (not so little now) helper and contributor. Measuring, mixing, stirring, grating, crumbing. Kid remembered the ‘wet hand, dry hand’ method for crumbing and needed no encouragement. Made the egg wash and got it done.With kid on school hols and Doctor home from work we made this our first proper hot lunch in a long while. Very civilised and stuff. We had plenty left over. There’s easily enough here for a family of 4-5.These dishes were all delicious on their own but really shone when paired together.
Of course you could substitue white meat or fish for the eggplant, but then again, why would you?
This style of curry is a staple in Japan. And has been for a while here in Brisbane too in our foodcourts, fast food joints and outdoor markets. Happily.
Kid and I can’t wait to visit and see the cuisine up close and personal. Not this year though, I’m getting married. Stuff to organise.