This Japanese eggplant salad is eggplant nirvana, adding the lime juice while the eggplant is still hot gives it a delicious lime citrus hit.
This Japanese Eggplant Salad came about because I had bought a tree of coriander (cilantro) from our Asian greengrocer and had run across some gorgeous Japanese eggplants on my way home.
I combined these basic ingredients with one of my all-time flavour combinations - fresh coriander, lime and sesame and viola eggplant nirvana!
This salad pairs well with white fish, shellfish, pork, lamb and chicken. It would make a great side for your next Asian banquet or barbecue.
Try it with:
- Chinese fried rice
- Asian style prawn skewers
- Seared tuna
- Roast pork belly
What are Japanese eggplants?
Japanese (or Lebanese) eggplants are a long, slender oblong-shaped variety of eggplant. They have a glossy, smooth skin that is thin with a very dark purple almost black colour. Inside you will find a cream coloured flesh that is spongy and almost seedless. Their thin skin and sponginess allow them to easily absorb other flavours.
They are very similar to Chinese eggplants; the difference is that Chinese eggplants have a lighter colour more of a light lilac purple and are sometimes longer with even fewer seeds.
Can I substitute Japanese eggplants with regular eggplants?
You can substitute with ordinary globe eggplants just be conscious that the “eggplanty” flavour will be more pronounced.
If you are going to use globe eggplants cut them in long batons to get a similar look to the Japanese eggplants used in this salad. Cut the eggplant lengthwise in half, then into quarters or thirds (depending on its size).
1Prepare the Japanese eggplant
Wash your eggplants and remove the tops and ends, cut them in half lengthwise. Using a sharp knife cut partway into the white flesh on a diagonal in a cross-hatch pattern to make them look more attractive.
Place them in a large mixing bowl with the 3 tablespoons of MCT oil and one tablespoon sesame oil, season with some salt, pepper and toss until combined.
Preheat your barbecue to medium or use a large heavy-based frypan on medium heat.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to high as the eggplant will burn and not cook through with the outside becoming hard and rubbery when it is overcooked.
Place your eggplant face down on your barbecue and cook for 4 minutes until it turns a golden brown. Turn over, and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes. To check if it is ready, squeeze the side of the eggplant, it should feel soft and spongy.
When your eggplant is done, place it in a large mixing bowl and immediately pour the lime juice on top, which will be quickly absorbed into the hot eggplant as well as cooling it down slightly.
Then cut them in the middle with a pair of kitchen scissors so that they are easier to handle and to eat.
While your eggplant is marinating, wash the coriander, shake to remove excess water, cut off the stalks and chop roughly, then slice your chilli on the diagonal.
4Assemble the salad
Add the chopped coriander, the remaining 1 tablespoon of MCT oil and ½ tablespoon sesame oil, the sliced chilli and sesame seeds to the bowl withe eggplant and toss until well combined, taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste.
Arrange in a salad bowl and serve when ready.
Tips for making this salad
Whether you grill the eggplant on your barbecue for some added smokiness or you pan fry it this is a sensational salad. Just keep a couple of things in mind when you are making it:
- It must be cooked on medium heat whatever you do, do not rush it and turn the heat up to high! The eggplant will burn on the outside making it hard and chewy with the inside becoming dense and rubbery instead of the creamy, melting deliciousness a well-cooked eggplant should be.
- You must add the lime juice to your eggplant while it is hot otherwise it will not be as easily absorbed into the eggplant and give it a delicious citrusy hit.
Some more eggplant recipes to try:
- 800 grams Japanese eggplants (aubergines) (approximately 8 small)
- 1 ½ tablespoon sesame oil (Asian style)
- 4 tbsps MCT oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- ¼ cup lime juice (approximately 3 limes)
- 30 grams coriander (cilantro) (1 small bunch - ½ cup chopped leaves)
- 1 long red chilli (optional)
- 2 tbsps sesame seeds (toasted)
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Wash and trim your eggplants, cut them in half lengthwise. Cut partway into the white flesh on a diagonal in a cross-hatch pattern.
- Place them in a large mixing bowl with the 3 tablespoons of MCT oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil, season with some salt and pepper and toss until combined.
- Preheat your barbecue to medium or use a large heavy-based frypan on medium heat.
Place your eggplant face down on your barbecue and cook for 4 minutes until it turns a light golden brown. Turn over, and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes.
To check if it is ready, squeeze the side of the eggplant, it should feel soft and spongy.
- When your eggplant is done, place it in a large mixing bowl and immediately pour the lime juice on top. Then cut them in the middle with a pair of kitchen scissors so that they are easier to manage and to eat. Allow them to marinate in the lime juice.
- While your eggplant is marinating, wash the coriander, cut off the stalks and chop roughly and slice your chilli on the diagonal.
- Add the chopped coriander, the remaining 1 tablespoon of MCT and ½ tablespoon sesame oil, the sliced chilli and sesame seeds and toss until well combined, taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste
- Arrange in a salad bowl and serve when ready.
Harris Glidwell says
Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with ur rss . Dont know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thx
So glad you enjoyed it. Not sure what is happening with RSS feed, I will look into it.
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Hi Esteban - I am so glad that you are enjoying my recipes!
Unfortunately, I can't see the link to your website but if you would like to send it to me I would be happy to take a look.
Great recipe and post! I don't really enjoy eggplants but I gave this a try and the mix of ingredients really enhance the taste of the vegetable. I find that I tend to overcook the eggplant and they become rather mushy - any tips on how to remedy this? Can I also use garlic oil instead of sesame oil? Thanks f or sharing this!
I am glad you enjoyed this recipe. Yes, eggplants are tricky, I find that salting the eggplants reduces your risk of over-cooking them as it removes the water content and makes it easier (and faster) to cook. The only other thing to do is check them frequently throughout the cooking process. In our family there is no such thing as over-cooking eggplants as we tend to like them soft.
I have included instructions on how to salt eggplants below.
I hope this helps.
Instructions on how to salt eggplants...
For Japanese eggplants in half, cut part way into the flesh, (I did this on the diagonal to make it look more attractive).
For large globe eggplants cut into rounds.
Place the eggplant one layer at a time in a colander and sprinkle with either Himalayan rock salt or sea salt.
Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Drain the liquid and then pat dry to remove all the water.
Cook as per your recipe.
amin hashem says
Thanks for sharing the Japanese Eggplant Salad recipe, It looks and sounds delicious, I am ging to give it a try.
You know we have a similar recipe in Egypt, but instead of adding Sesame seeds, we add some garlic and vinegar. It is not normally cooked in an oven, instead, it is fried in hot vegetable oil. I think you may try it , I am sure you will love it.
Keep up the good work.
Yes, I have tried them that way and love them that way also. Eggplants are one of my favourite vegetables to cook
Many thanks and warmest regards.