Growing up in the US, eggplant wasn't a veggie my family ate much of. It wasn't until I moved to Japan that I realized their sweet, creamy potential. It's not that the eggplants here are any better than the ones in the US (though we do have more variety). The trick is mostly in how they're prepared.
Eggplant is best when it's cooked using a high-temperature cooking method such as deep frying, steaming, and char-roasting. This softens them up and primes the flesh for absorbing your choice of seasonings.
For these eggplant "steaks," I used a three-step method that starts with pan-frying them to get some good Maillard browning on the exterior. I followed that up with some steam using sake. This cooks the eggplant through to a melt-in-your-mouth texture while infusing it with loads of umami. To finish it off, I tossed in some cultured butter and soy sauce and created an emulsion to glaze each round of tender eggplant with heaps of flavor.
By the way, I used some unusual-looking white eggplant I found at a local farm stand, but this should work with any fleshy eggplant such as Italian or Globe.
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