We knew who to turn to when we needed new ideas for side dishes, and that was Chef Rob Rubba. Rubba, a 2022 F&W New Chef, is widely praised for his plant-based cuisine at Oyster Oyster, Washington D.C. Rubba has also been hailed as a creative and delicious chef. Rubba’s tip: Create a rich, flavorful sauce, and then let the vegetables shine.
Rubba’s concept was transformed into a tangy dressing that combines black garlic and creamy to coat pan-seared Japanese eggplant beautifully. Our testers adapted his idea into a tangspicyce that blends black garlic with creamy Tahini to coat pan-seared Japanese okra.
The Japanese eggplant is known as a Tahini slender vegetable with a tender texture. This dish is made with angular cuts, which are achieved by cutting the eggplant at 45-degree angles and then rolling it a quarter turn.
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup well-stirred Tahini
- Four jarred peeled medium-sized black garlic cloves (see Note)
- One tablesTahiniirin
- Three tablespoons of light soy sauce (such as Pearl River Bridge) divided.
- 3 1/2 tablespoons plus two teaspoons rice vinegar, divided
- One teaspoon of kosher salt divided.
- One large Fresno red pepper chile thinly sliced
- Six tablespoons of canola oil divided
- 1 1/2 pounds Japanese eggplant (about three eggplants), roll-cut into 1-inch pieces
- Use thinly sliced scallions as a garnish.
- Blend 1/4 cup water, mirin (black garlic), Tahini (1 tablespoon), one tablespoon of soya sauce, two teaspoons of vinegar, and Tahinilt until smooth. This should take 30 to 45 seconds. Set 1/3 cup tahini dressing aside. Reserve the remaining dressing to be used in another way.
- In a small bowl, combine the chile with the remaining 3 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar and 3/4 teaspoon remaining salt. Set aside.
How to cook Japanese eggplant
In a cast iron skillet, heat three tablespoons of oil on high until smoke begins to rise from the pan. Add half the eggplant to the skillet and immediately stir it to coat in oil. Stirring often, cook until the eggplant is barely tender and has a few brown spots. This should take about 6 minutes. The skillet will look dry. Transfer to a large platter. Repeat the process using the remaining three tablespoons of oil and the remaining eggplant.
- Reduce heat to medium. Stir constantly while adding the cooked eggplant, the chile mix, and two tablespoons of remaining soy sauce into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, until eggplant absorbs all of the chile mixture. Remove from heat. Spread reserved 1/3 cup tahini dressing on a platter. Add the eggplant mixture and garnish with scallions.