Once in a while, my neighborhood Japanese supermarket hosts a rice festival, and I treat the family to a sack of glorious Japanese-grown rice. Because the short grains are slightly sticky but still retaining a little bite and bounce, it's great for absorbing saucy dishes. I made Gyudon, or Japanese Beef on Rice as a topping, and Saucy Eggplant as a side dish. The Gyudon recipe is adapted from a favorite cookbook called Harumi's Japanese Cooking, and the Eggplant dish is from an old Chinese cookbook that I pinched from my Mom's collection. Now this is my idea of comfort food!
(Beef on Rice)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 fresh shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
500g sukiyaki beef (or thinly sliced beef)
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin
4 tablespoons white sugar
cooked white rice
Pour the wine and water into a saucepan and boil over medium heat. Once it has boiled, lower the heat and add your beef one slice at a time and simmer for about a minute. Skim the surface of the broth for any residue.
Add soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Prepare a piece of aluminum foil in the diameter of the saucepan and let it sit directly on top of the beef mixture. This "drop lid" technique concentrates the flavor of your broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove the lid, add the onions and mushrooms, and continue to simmer until soft.
Scoop the freshly cooked rice into your bowl. Spoon the beef, onions and broth onto the rice bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve with japanese pickles, if available.
500 g eggplant
1 cup oil for frying
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chinese black vinegar or
1/4 cup water
Peel the eggplant. Cut off both ends and cut the remaining section into 3-inch lengths. Halve lengthwise.
Heat pan and add oil. Deep fry the eggplant pieces in batches for about 2 minutes. Remove and drain. Leave about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan.
Stir fry garlic until fragrant, then add the eggplant, soy sauce, sugar, salt, vinegar and water. Cook over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Garnish with spring onions. Serve immediately.