What does flash fried mean? It means dumping the eggplant slices into a pool of very hot oil and cooked for a short time over intensely high heat.
Why high heat and short cooking time? Eggplants continue to cook in residual heat. Because you want the eggplants done but not mushy, the best way to retain the ideal doneness is by removing them from the hot oil just as soon as they are done.
There are three stages in cooking this vegetable dish. Start by making the sauce because it needs to cool to room temperature before it is poured over the fried eggplants.
Why is it important to cool the sauce before being poured over the eggplants? Well, we flash fry the eggplants to prevent them from cooking in residual heat and turning soggy. Pouring hot sauce over them will just negate all that flash frying effort. So, cool the sauce.
The two other stages consists of flash frying the eggplants and bonito flakes? Yes, bonito flakes. Those thin shaved things you see on top of your okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Fried bonito flakes are sprinkled over the eggplants before serving. Not as a mere ornament, mind you, but to add a rich umami flavor to the dish.
Fried eggplants with ginger dashi sauce
- 1 cup dashi - or dissolve one packet of dashi granules in a cup of water
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 to 3 cups cooking oil
- 4 large eggplants - (the long Asian variety is best)
- 1 handful bonito flakes
- Pour the dashi, mirin and soy sauce into a small sauce pan.
- Stir in the ginger.
- Bring to the boil then leave to simmer, uncovered, for two to three minutes.
- Turn off the heat.
- Place the sauce pan in a bowl of iced water to cool. Set aside.
- Heat enough cooking oil in a wok or frying pan to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- While the oil heats up, cut the eggplants into rings about an inch thick. If your eggplants are thick, cut into halves vertically before slicing.
- When the oil starts to smoke, dump in the eggplants and cook over high heat just until softened but not mushy. Tip: the frying time should take about two minutes or less.
- Scoop out the eggplants and spread on a shallow bowl. Pour the cooled sauce directly over them.
- Fry the bonito flakes in the hot oil for about 10 seconds.
- Scoop out the bonito flakes and spread over the eggplants.
- Serve immediately.