Don't Laugh: I Made A Japanese Eggplant Dog

Oh look, it's Jess observing Meatless Monday. She'll do that. Yeah, I will, and in the spirit of making you even more awesome vegetarian calls than I did last Monday, I bring you a new invention: the Japanese eggplant dog.

Japanese eggplants can be found in any Asian market, and in most markets with a specialty produce section. They're increasingly popular, since they don't have to be peeled like their Italian counterparts frequently do — and are typically sweeter and more tender. If you're roasting and scooping for baba ghanoush or Sicilian eggplant caviar, definitely still go with the huge dark purple kind, but if you're substituting for meat entirely, roast a Japanese eggplant whole, stick it in a bun and call it a veggie dog. Let me tell you something the veggie dog companies don't want you to know: 100% vegetable is very unlike 30% "veggies," 60% other crap and 10% horsefeathers (or maybe just horse).

Long story short: trim the eggplant at both ends, cut a shallow slit down the length to allow the heat to penetrate more easily, rub with olive oil and a little coarse salt and pepper and roast at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and tender (unlike Italian eggplant, this variety doesn't need to be salted in advance to remove bitterness). Let it stand for about 10 minutes to retain the juices (just like meat!) then transfer to a bun and go to TOWN. Here are three ways to do it:


I will come up with a better portmanteau, but until then blend equal parts miso, mustard and Japanese mayo for a brand-new condiment that highlights the juicy, savory nature of the eggplant. Sprinkle with furikake to really drive the point home.

Eggplant parm dog

Give your prepped eggplant the old egg n' bread treatment, then roast as usual, stick in a bun, top with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella and parmesan and broil quickly. Sprinkle with chopped basil before serving. See also: broccoli rabe and provolone dog.

Ratatouille dog

Top your eggplant-dog with a colorful relish of finely diced squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, basil, garlic and onions sautéed in olive oil for about 15 minutes, splashed with white wine and simmered until the liquid is absorbed. Want to be extra-French? (No?) Stick two of those in a baguette, cover it with shredded Gruyère and call it un hot dog vegetarien.

So if you've somehow tired of all those awesome ideas for portobello sandwiches I suggested not too long ago (lies, you haven't even tried one), you now have somewhere to turn in the epic battle to not cave and get a BLT. Ugh, why do I sabotage myself like this?

More Meatless Monday for lunch on Food Republic: