If you’re part of a CSA, you know that every week can be like an episode of “Chopped.” The share usually includes easily identifiable staples, like zucchini and peppers, plus a surplus of salad greens that you do your best to use before they wilt. Then there are the less familiar items: garlic scapes, dinosaur kale, chard and cabbage in every color you can imagine. Another ingredient that falls into that category—one you may recognize but not know how to use—is Japanese eggplant.
Japanese eggplant is thinner than the common globe variety. Its skin is usually a lighter shade of purple, and it contains far fewer seeds. And best of all, its meat is super silky and not at all bitter. This smooth texture and mild flavor lend themselves really well to this simple grilled salad with a sweet and salty dressed-up hoisin sauce. Next time you get this item in your CSA, you’ll know exactly what to do with it!
Grilled Japanese Eggplant Salad
If you prefer to cook eggplant on the stovetop, prepare the eggplant as directed, then heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet until very hot. Place eggplant slices flesh-side down in pan in one layer and cook until brown, about 4 minutes. Drizzle additional 1 teaspoon oil over eggplant halfway through cooking first side. Flip eggplant over, drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over pan and cook until second side is browned, about 2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining eggplant wedges.
5 or 6 large Japanese eggplant (about 1½ pounds), sliced into wedges and flesh scored in shallow crosshatch pattern
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon Sriracha
¼ teaspoon white wine vinegar
Scallions, sliced thin
1. Heat grill to medium-high. Brush cut sides of eggplant wedges with thin layer of oil. Season lightly with salt. Place on grill across the grates so wedges don’t fall through. Cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. While first side is cooking, brush second side with thin layer of oil and season lightly with salt. Flip and cook until second side is browned and eggplant is soft all the way through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate and set aside.
2. In small bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water, ginger, sesame oil, Sriracha and vinegar.
3. To serve: Drizzle some sauce on large plate. Spread eggplant wedges out onto plate. Sprinkle chopped peanuts, thinly sliced scallions and cilantro leaves over eggplant, then spoon sauce over top. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.