This dish evolved from an eggplant recipe that we made from one of the Ottolenghi cookbooks. It basically called for steaming the crap out of a sliced eggplant, and then seasoning it with a Japanese-style dressing. We made it (or some variation of it) quite a few times because it was tasty, easy to put together. It made for a nice side dish for dinner (e.g. along with rice and pickled vegetables) and leftovers were a good addition to lunch the next day. Lately though, we’ve been using our oven a lot for meal prep and it only made sense to recreate this dish with roasted eggplant. We also ended up making some adjustments to the dressing to suit our preference and married it a Chinese-style ginger-scallion sauce.
I think we’ve mentioned this a few times before, but Megan and I like to plan our meals ahead of time to reduce meal planning decision fatigue (it’s a real thing!). To keep thinks interesting, we try to plan for a variety of different types of cuisine throughout the week: Taco Tuesday, Japanese Wednesday, Indian Thursday, … And while we’re definitely not opposed to eating the same thing every week, we also like to change things up once in a while for a little variety week to week. Our baby boy just turned one and has been reaching for our food more frequently, so a good way to reduce some of our meal prep is to get him to eat what we eat. At this point it’s not too difficult, it just means laying off on the salt and sugar, and making sure the consistency is manageable for him. Okonomiyaki has been a really great option for this! We have also discovered that with something like a pancake, it’s much easier for us to hide his vegetables.
This is a dish that I grew up with – at Grandma’s house and occasionally at home. It always felt like a real treat: (a) because it’s so yummy, (b) because we didn’t have it often, and (c) because you knew you might get some leftovers the next day in a chow mein sandwich!
Dashi is a simple stock, a foundation of Japanese cooking, which typically consists of three ingredients: Kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and water. The combination of these ingredients creates a stock that amplifies the umami flavour in any dish. It is widely used not only for soups, but a wide range of dishes such as simmered vegetables and even dipping sauces. For this reason, it’s great to make a good-sized batch to have on hand in the fridge to use throughout the week.
Old recipes aren’t always the best, but there is an emotional quality to them that can’t be found anywhere else. They bring us closer to the past and allow us to relive special memories. Granted, just because you have grandma’s recipe, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to make it “just like grandma used to make”. In fact, a popular conspiracy theory on our end is that recipes from grandmas often “accidentally” omit some minor detail so that you can never get it quite right! Regardless, we enjoy re-discovering old recipes, especially ones dear to our hearts.