Check out these articles

Check out these articles

Learn How to Make Chasen Nasu From a Chef – Video Introduction

This video, titled "[Eggplant Recipe] How to Make Chasen Nasu" (【茄子レシピ】茶筅茄子 作り方 一例), was uploaded by "Japanese cuisine channel." In this video, Hiroyuki Deguchi, a chef in Kumamoto, Japan, teaches use some useful Japanese cooking techniques.

Chasen nasu (lit. "Tea Whisk Eggplant") is a common eggplant decorations used in Japanese dishes.
It's difficult to find Japanese cooking recipes directly from Japan, but this chef shows in detail how to cut, and season small eggplants. Even if you can't understand Japanese, the video is easy to follow, and we'll also have a step-by-step guide below. You're sure to get hang of it in no time! Be sure to follow along with the video.

Japanese Eggplants vs. Other Eggplants

The Japanese word for eggplant is "nasu" (茄子). Compared to eggplants in other parts of the world, which are often round and have a harder skin, Japanese eggplants are characterized by their long, slender body and dark purple coloring. Japanese eggplants are similar to American eggplants in color, but are quite different than say, Chinese eggplants, which have a much lighter color.

How to Choose an Eggplant

Image of eggplant

The chef in this video uses a small eggplant. The trick to knowing whether an eggplant is good is to check the color of the cut end of the calyx (the leafy portion at the top of the eggplant) after cutting the stem. The darker the color, the less fresh the eggplant is. Additionally, fresh eggplants are characterized by prickly thorns on the calyx, and smooth skin on the surface. Be sure to check these points when picking an eggplant.
[Video] 0:09 - How to Tell if an Eggplant Is Fresh

Preparation of the Eggplant

Image of cutting the eggplant
Photo:Cutting the eggplant

The next step is to prepare the eggplants. First, scrape off the thorns of the eggplant with a knife and cut off the tip of the calyx, then, cut off the calyx. At this point, put the kitchen knife blade on the calyx and slowly turn the eggplant without moving the knife to remove it. You can see a simple demonstration of this in the video.
[Video] 0:46 - Preparing the Eggplant

How to Cut Chasen Nasu

Once you've finished preparing the eggplant, it's time to cut the eggplant into a tea whisk shape. Using your knife, cut the eggplant vertically towards the center. Continue to rotate the eggplant little-by-little, making cuts as close together as possible. Slices can be deep towards the eggplant’s center, or shallow depending on how you want to cut it. Make slices all around the body of the eggplant while leaving the head and bottom uncut.
[Video] 1:46 - Decorative Cuts for Chasen Nasu

Deep Frying the Eggplants

Next, fry the prepared eggplants in oil at 180°C (355°F). It's important to let the eggplants fry steadily for about 2 minutes. From there, remove one from the oil and stick it with a skewer; if it goes in smoothly, it's well fried. Remove all of the eggplants from the oil and remove the excess oil to the best of your ability.

Simmer the Eggplants in Warishita Sauce and Cool Them to Complete

Image of warishita sauce
Photo:Warishita sauce

Simmer the fried eggplants with warishita sauce prepared with the following ratio.

Warishita Sauce:
Dashi 5:Soy sauce 1:Mirin (cooking sake) 1:Sugar a pinch

Simmer the eggplants in warishita sauce about one minute. Then, cover the pan with parchment paper and let them cool for about 30 minutes to let the flavor sink in.
Finally, remove the eggplants from the pan. While holding the head of one of the eggplants, twist it to make it look like a bamboo tea whisk; do this for each eggplant. Place the eggplants in a bowl, pour dashi over them, and you're done!

Decorative Eggplant Cuts for Tempura

The video also introduces another decorative cut for small eggplants.
Start by cutting a small eggplant in half. Then, using the tip of a knife, make vertical cuts on the eggplant. Finally, pat the body of the eggplant with the side of the knife; this will cause the eggplant to open into a beautiful fan-like shape.
[Video] 2:56 - How to Cut Eggplant for Tempura

The Different Varieties of Eggplants

Image of different eggplant varieties
Photo:Different eggplant varieties

Despite eggplants being known as summer vegetables in Japan, some people say eggplants are best suited for the fall. In general, eggplant season is from early summer to early fall in Japan, although there are some varieties that can be enjoyed starting in late April. Do you know of the different types of eggplants in Japan?

First, there are the small eggplants shown in the video. "Konasu" (小茄子, lit. "Small eggplants") is the general term for eggplants that are around 3 inches long and weigh approximately 30 grams (1 ounce). Yamagata and Kyoto are two areas in Japan that are famous for their eggplants. Besides the simmered chasen nasu recipe we have seen, eggplant is often pickled in Japan as well. Karashizuke (a local specialty of Yamagata prefecture) made from eggplant goes great with rice!

Another popular eggplant is Naganasu (長茄子, lit "long eggplants), which are often sold in supermarkets in Japan. This eggplant has soft flesh and is suitable for dishes like mabo nasu (fried eggplant with Chinese chili sauce). Marunasu and Beinasu, which are round in shape, are recommended for Miso Dengaku (a dish in which tofu, vegetables, etc. are skewered, grilled, and coated with a miso glaze) because of their tender flesh.

Another famous eggplant is Mizunasu. This variety of eggplant is cultivated in southern Osaka. Their skin is thin and soft so they can be eaten raw, and they are known to be sweet and juicy. In addition, there are eggplants with a green skin called Aonasu and even a variety of eggplant called Shironasu, which has white skin.

Chasen Nasu Eggplant Decoration & Recipe Summary

Some of the recipes for chasen nasu are quick and easy to prepare in a microwave using a microwave-safe container and mentsuyu (a type of noodle sauce made with dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar). It's very easy to make and convenient when you don't have a lot of time.

That being said, we definitely recommend taking the time to recreate a professional flavor. You can also try cutting the eggplant into decorative shapes so it's a feast for both the eyes and mouth! We hope this easy chasen nasu eggplant recipe has sparked your interest in Japanese cooking!

Written By
Last Updated : Jun. 17, 2023
平敷 篤(Atsushi Heishiki)
My name is Atsushi Heishiki, a writer who loves Japanese culture and lives in Okinawa.
Chasen Nasu – A Unique Eggplant Recipe to Spice Up Your Japanese Cooking! This Simple Yet Versatile Food Art Trick Will Have You Cooking Like a Pro!
If this article interests you, be sure to leave a follow.

Recommended Articles