A healthful spice, that makes everything nice
We forgot to go grocery shopping and our fridge was looking sparse. We didn’t have many vegetables at home, besides some eggplants and a nub of ginger. Can you even cook anything good with just that?
But turns out my mom had a plan — she took the eggplants and put it on the grill, cooked for about 20 minutes on high heat. Then she grated the ginger, served it with the cooked eggplants, and dressed it in a noodle soup base. A delicious vegetable dish, done.
Japanese Grilled Eggplant with Ginger
- 1 eggplant per person
- 1 piece of ginger, about 15 grams
- Noodle soup base
- Wash the eggplants, and place them whole on a grill, toaster, or pan. Not a lot of oil is necessary, just enough to prevent sticking. Cook for 20–25 minutes, or until soft — the grill will take less time than the pan, and the pan will take less time than the toaster.
- Grate the ginger, serve it on the side with the grilled eggplant dressed in noodle soup base. Enjoy!
*Optional: If using a large eggplant, cut into discs first to save time.
“Why do we always have ginger in the fridge?”
Not only was I impressed with how simple it was and how quickly my mom pulled together the dish, but I began to notice that raw grated ginger is served with so many Japanese foods. You find it on the side of sushi, soba noodles, grilled chicken, fried fish, steamed vegetables, and agedashi tofu, just to name a few. If you also count the way ginger is boiled into many soups and broths, or how pickled ginger is used to top okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and Japanese curries, it seems that ginger is used in almost every Japanese meal.
Health benefits of eating with ginger
Ginger is a common cooking spice that originated in Asia. It has a very long history of traditional use in alternative medicine, so long that there are ancient Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, Roman, and Arabic texts that detail the use of ginger for health-related purposes. Today, it is often still used for at-home remedies to treat symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, headache, and sore throat.
Ginger is so useful because it contains a bioactive compound called gingerol, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance that helps aid digestion, boosts immunity, has antibacterial effects, and fights the common cold. It is the main substance behind ginger’s various medicinal properties that make the spice so popular.
Eating as balancing
The traditional Japanese diet is not overly complicated or particularly restrictive, but it is especially mindful about incorporating these healthful spices in simple ways, to enhance both flavor and bring balance to the foods we love.
So instead of forcing ginger into our systems as a separate pill or packaged supplement, sustainable nutrition is about considering the simple ways you can add healthful ingredients into your meals. So crush and boil it into a broth, slice and top it on steamed or grilled vegetables, or use it as a grated side to your favorite dishes — the ways you can incorporate ginger are plentiful!