Meera Sodha’s Vegan Recipe for Eggplant Donburi | Vegan food and drink
WWhat I love about donburi, or Japanese rice bowls, is that they are complete meals on their own. Rice is built into the equation from the start, rather than just as a serving suggestion. This means, I think, that the sweet sauce that these eggplants are simmered in is designed specifically for rice. It’s reduced until it’s sticky enough to glaze eggplants and potent enough that it needs to lean on rice to provide a respite from the intensity of the flavor. It’s simple, but perfect.
I’ve taken the liberty of using one of my favorite toppings – fried and salted spring onions and ginger soaked in a little vinegar – but if you don’t have time to do so, use fresh ginger. into thin matchsticks or sliced spring onions instead.
Preperation 10 minutes
to cook 1h10
For the eggplants
350g short grain rice
4 tablespoons of cooking sake
4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
2½ tablespoons of mirin
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1 cm slices
Rapeseed oil, for frying
For the ginger and fried onions
3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
50g of ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
6 new onions, trimmed and finely chopped
½ teaspoon of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
Wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear, then transfer it to a pot that you have a lid on. Cover with lukewarm water, let soak for five minutes, then drain, cover with 400 ml of cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat in a low voice, cook for 12 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside, still covered.
Meanwhile, prepare the donburi sauce. In a small bowl, combine the sake, soy sauce, mirin, garlic and a pinch of matchstick ginger in the dressing.
Line a plate or board with paper towels. Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the remaining ginger and spring onions and cook for about eight minutes, until tender and starting to caramelize. Pour into a bowl, stir in the salt and vinegar and set aside.
Put a little more oil in the pan, then, cooking them in batches, place the eggplant slices side by side and fry for three minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and fry on the other side until tender and golden, then transfer to the lined plate to drain and repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, adding more oil as needed.
Once all the eggplants are fried, gently return them to the pan in layers and lower the heat. Pour the donburi sauce on top, simmer for a few minutes, until reduced and sticky, then remove from the heat. (If the sauce is threatening to disappear completely, add a little water to rehydrate it – you want this to be a little naughty.)
Divide the hot rice between four plates, place eggplant slices on top and top with a little sauce. Add a little fried salted ginger and spring onion and serve.