Bliss, is when you have found a life partner who is just excited as you are to go on food adventures of different kinds. I’m lucky that Kevin and I seem to agree most of the time on our meal choices, and that has brought us some memorable dining experiences, some are hits and some are misses (usually promptly blacklisted by us). Sometimes, a dish left such lasting impression, I felt compelled to replicate at home.
Several months ago, Kevin and I went to 炭家 Sumika, a fairly well-known Yakitori restaurant located at SS15 Subang Jaya. This restaurant has a strong following, and you do have to book ahead to guarantee a seat. There is only one grill and one Yakitori master manning it (though he does have help by his side), expertly turning the skewers around and seasoning everything to perfection.
All the skewers we ordered, be it Chicken, Pork, Beef, or various organs (our favourite) were good. But what really won us over was the Grilled Eggplant. I don’t have a good picture to show you, but let me paint you a picture. A long, sizable Eggplant slowly charred on the grill for that perfect smokiness. The skin is then peeled, revealing its silky flesh, which is then cut into smaller pieces, drizzled with Ponzu Shoyu and then covered with Bonito Flakes. Our mind was blown.
Of course, I don’t have a charcoal grill at home (what an investment that would be), but I do have an Airfryer that does amazing things with Eggplants (I’ve made Baba Ganoush and Tortang Talong that employs the same principle of charring the eggplant), so this dish made into fairly high rotation at home.
Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine and it’s often combined with Soy sauce. I used a bottled one. You should be able to find it in the Japanese food section of your supermarket. If not, it’s not so difficult to make at home. Here’s a recipe.
This dish really so simple it’s pretty much a non-recipe. With an airfryer, simply set the Eggplant to grill on 180 degrees Celcius for 10 minutes. Once it’s done, carefully peel off the skin (it should come right off), place on a plate and cut into bite size pieces with scissors. Drizzle enough Ponzu sauce and Soy Sauce over, then garnish with Bonito Flakes. Serve when hot.
No airfryer? Fret not, you can still char it over the stove, bake it for another 15 minutes and then proceed with the same steps. Do bear in mind though with the airfryer it won’t have the distinctive charred/smokiness aroma. So if that’s really important to you, then this recipe is not for you (invest in a charcoal grill!).
Enjoy this with or without rice, along with other dishes (teriyaki chicken is a good one, grilled salmon is fabulous too). If you love eggplant as much as we do, you’ll fall in love with this too.