And while pairing this Japanese-style eggplant, not unlike traditional nasu dengaku, with a garlicky yogurt plucked from the Levant might seem like an odd choice, yogurt’s been popular in Japan for almost 50 years.
It’s just what we expect from Sam Smith. His Middle Eastern adjacent food at Tusk regularly crossed international flavor borders with delicious results.
For the shopping list
Japanese-Style Eggplant (long, skinny eggplants)
Lime or Lemon
Greek-style yogurt or labneh
From our shop
$12 - Saitama - Japan
$8 - Santa Cruz - California
$20 - Abruzzo - Italy
From the kitchen
First, make the marinade. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and put it in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with the salt and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, miso, soy sauce, water, and olive oil.
Stripe peel the eggplant, leaving some skin. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and slice a diamond pattern on the cut side of the eggplant. This allows the marinade to penetrate the eggplant and helps it cook more evenly.
Brush the eggplant in the marinade, using just enough to moisten the eggplant, reserving the rest. Let sit for at least thirty minutes and up to 3 hours.
While the eggplant marinates, prepare the yogurt. Microplane or finely chop 1 clove of garlic, and mix with the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Let sit for 5 minutes to mellow the garlic flavor. Stir the garlic lemon mixture into the yogurt and olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Heat a pan wide enough to fit the eggplant on medium heat. Add a splash of oil to the pan and wait for it to shimmer. Sear the eggplant on the cut side first. When they’re brown and caramelized, turn over to cook the skin side, adjusting the heat if needed so they don't color too quickly. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan.
Continue cooking the eggplant until it is nicely browned on both sides. Put in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the eggplant is a little soft and cooked through.
Spread the yogurt out on the plate. Place the cooked eggplant on top and spread the reserved marinade over. Drizzle with more olive oil, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with citrus wedges.