Grilled Aubergine with Yakumi Sauce, by Reiko Hashimoto

The chef proposes applying a spicy sauce to aubergine, in a recipe taken from her book ‘Japan, the World Vegetarian.’


WordsClémence Leleu


‘Aubergine soaks up flavour very well and is simply outstanding when grilled. The yakumi sauce with aubergine is a perfect marriage. You don’t need any other vegetables for this dish,’ explains chef Reiko Hashimoto who, in her book Japan, the World Vegetarian, shares a recipe for grilled aubergine with yakumi sauce, a spicy sauce that’s generally used to accompany tuna tataki. 

Reiko Hashimoto is the first Japanese woman to teach the art of sushi in the United Kingdom. After studying English Literature, she embarked on a brief career as an air hostess. Her travels fuelled her appetite for different types of world cuisine. Reiko Hashimoto then changed careers to teach foreigners living in Japan about the country’s cuisine. She now lives in London and runs Hashi, a Japanese cookery school that she founded in 2001, where she trains both beginners and chefs from all over the world. 

Japan, the World Vegetarian is her third book dedicated to Japanese cuisine. 

Serves 4


2 large aubergines

2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 banana shallots, very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

For the yakumi sauce:

4 tablespoons soy sauce 

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

4 spring onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons finely chopped or grated ginger

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 tablespoon sesame oil


Cut the aubergines in half vertically with the stalk still intact. Preheat the grill to high. Brush the flesh side of the aubergines with the oil and place cut sides down. Grill for about 15 minutes or until the flesh becomes soft and the skin burnt. Remove and leave to cool. 

Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and leave to sit for at least 30 minutes.

Add the salt to a bowl of water, and use to soak the shallot slices. Grind the toasted sesame seeds using a pestle and mortar.

Once the aubergines are cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, and slice the aubergines in half lengthways, then into large bite-sized chunks or thick slices.

Place the aubergines on a large sharing plate or individual plates and then pour the yakumi sauce over the top. Drain the shallots, pat dry with kitchen paper, and sprinkle over the top of the aubergines. Finish with a final scattering of ground sesame seeds and serve at room temperature. 


Japan, the World Vegetarian (2020) by Reiko Hashimoto is published by Bloomsbury Absolute.