The aubergine really is the superstar of the show here and can easily be enjoyed as a vegetarian standalone dish — a Japanese classic — Nasu Dengaku. The combination of soft, melting, unctuous aubergine with slightly crisp skin and a rich sweet-salty glaze is truly moreish. Once tasted . . . addiction and cravings guaranteed.
Aubergines (or eggplant) are relatively high in soluble fibre and as per our previous posts, dietary intake is associated with lowering of ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol and glycaemic control. There appears to be an urban myth that propagates around the medical community in the UK that cholesterol can only be lowered by around 10% through diet and lifestyle. Rest assured (and assuming that you are not already a svelte vegan yoga triathlete, i.e. your lifestyle is not already perfect) you can make significant improvements above and beyond this through appropriate dietary change and exercise. As Cardiologists we are strong advocates of modern medicine but unless you have established cardiovascular disease, diabetes, familial hypercholesterolaemia or are clearly high risk for other reasons, an evidence-based diet and lifestyle change should be your first port of call prior to committing to tablets.
There has also been interest in the compound Nasunin contained in the skin of aubergines and although from our perspective this is only an early area of potential interest for more research, this anthocyanin conceptually mirrors the health interest in berry fruit pigments (which have been associated with prognostic benefit in cohort studies).
Anyway — back to the food — the Japanese theme runs through the rest of this delicious meal. Here at Cardiologist’s Kitchen we love sushi but are aware that for many people (including our parents’ generation) this is still a step too far. Here we have translated the bits we love about Sashimi into a beautiful piece of grilled monkfish tail. The clean, firm, meaty monkfish flavour is perfectly complimented with a wafer of our crisp 15-minute pickle and dripped in soy dressing.
Incidentally monkfish is a great fish especially if you think you don’t like fish. Discarded by UK fisherman or used as bait in the not to recent past because of its ugly and scary facial appearance, you will now find monkfish in all good fishmongers (with the head cut off). The tail meat is a pure milky-white, firm, sweet-tasting and meaty (nothing fishy about this fish). If you buy the whole tail there is a a large central bone which will add flavour to the grilled meat and is super easy to fillet afterwards. Just ask your fishmonger to remove the ‘membrane’ that surrounds the tail-meat as otherwise this will toughen and contract the meat during cooking.
This dish is a textural and flavour delight with the added health benefits as a bonus. Importantly and honestly you can have this on your plate with minimal preparation in around 30 minutes. If you are hungry then finish Japanese-style — with a small side bowl of steaming rice (sushi rice would be traditional but we would recommend basmati or nutty brown rice and you can now get pretty good straight from the microwave ready versions if in a hurry).