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Notable Nosh: Nasu Eggplant

Nasu Eggplant

I was served the dish you see pictured above a little while ago in Ottawa. It was called ‘Nasu Eggplant’ on the menu (which is rather a redundancy of sorts as ‘Nasu’ is actually the Japanese word for eggplant) and was described as eggplant ‘grilled with shrimp and scallop and served in a sweet miso sauce’. A few Ottawa visits before this last one, I sampled Vietnamese dish that also featured eggplant done with scallops and shrimp , so I was rather curious to try a Japanese style dish with these ingredients by way of comparison. I must say, after reading the description, I was rather expecting something along the lines of a ‘Nasu Dengaku’ (eggplant grilled with a Miso glaze), except with scallop and shrimp as an accompaniment (and presumably grilled the same way). As it happened, what I was received was something completely different…

As you can see, the dish I was served was very nicely presented but, instead of the grilled eggplant slices I was expecting, it consisted of sections of eggplant that had been hollowed out and stuffed before grilling. The filling did indeed contain scallop (and their flavor came through nicely) but the shrimp were not apparent either visually or in the flavor. In addition to these, and not mentioned on the menu, were short-grained rice, and some mushrooms that I am fairly sure were a small Shimeji variety. These last can be very tasty but, unfortunately, there were too few of them in this preparation to add much more than visual appeal.

Anyway, as I say, the dish was very pretty, and the grilling was done well, but the overall effect was a bit lacking. My main disappointment was that there was absolutely no hint of miso anywhere at all. There certainly was no ‘sauce’ to speak of, and I couldn’t detect any miso flavor in the eggplants themselves or the filling. Indeed, there was an obvious lack of saltiness that I had to remedy with a little splash of soy. It’s a shame, really, that the execution of this dish was a bit of a failure, but, overall, I can say that I am glad I tried it as I thought the idea was excellent and one I could have a great deal of fun playing around with at home…

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