In this dish, soft eggplant absorbs a delicious broth, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth perfection both of taste and texture.
Agebitashi means fried (ageh) and soaked (hitashi). This is a Japanese cooking technique in which vegetables are deep-fried and then soaked in a flavourful broth. Frying evaporates surface moisture, protecting the vegetables from absorbing oil except for in the surface crust. Soaking the veggies after frying them allows the broth to permeate more easily.
Two things are key with this recipe, and the first applies to deep frying in general: the temperature of the oil. For agebitashi, the oil should reach a temperature of 180 C / 356 F. Any less than that and the oil will not be hot enough to evaporate surface moisture, resulting in oily veggies.
Trick number 2: the key to a melty soft eggplant is to score it about halfway through so it can absorb as much of the flavourful broth as possible!
This recipe is delicious both hot and cold. For variety, you can replace the eggplant with kabocha, green peppers, or even snap peas.
Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or deep frying pan, to about 360 degrees Farenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Add the eggplant (and shishito) and deep fry about 3 minutes, turning once. Then place on a plate lined with a few paper towels to drain.
Combine the broth ingredients in a saucepan and heat over low until warm. Add the eggplant (and shishito) and let it soak up the flavour for a couple of minutes, turning once. Remove from heat – don’t let it boil!
Place the eggplant (and shishito) on a dish, top with some grated daikon and ginger, drizzle with a little more broth and serve!