1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise, then cut into bite-sized pieces and soak in water for about 5 minutes. Drain, and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
2. To make the dressing, combine the pickled plum paste, lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil, and salt, and mix well.
3. Bring a pan of water to a boil, add the eggplant, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Alternatively, fry the eggplant in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
4. Arrange the eggplant on a serving plate, and drizzle with the dressing. Granish with shredded shiso, if available.
Reprinted with permission from the book:
The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan
by Mari Fujii
While Japanese cuisine has become popular in the West, far less is known about the traditional fare originating from Japan's Buddhist temples. Natural and healthy, temple food is based on fresh seasonal vegetables, and staples such as grains and tofu. For centuries, these dishes have been a way of life - and a refreshing change of pace - for monks whose days are spent in rigorous self-discipline.
Mari Fujii delivers simple, seasonal foods with love and care. She teaches the importance of drawing out the natural flavors of ingredients rather than smothering with heavy sauces or spices. Any way you look at it, The Enlightened Kitchen is a nourishing experience for both body and soul.
This elegant bud vase combines traditional Japanese bamboo craftsmanship with a Bauhaus sensibility.
An example of Takesensuji bamboo ware from Shizuoka Prefecture, the narrow glass vase is held between two frames of fine bamboo lattice. The lattice frames may be oriented either horizontally or vertically.
Traditional yet modern, it's a work of art even without a flower. [US$34, €30]
This brick-red tin would make a handy stand on your desk for holding pens, pencils and brushes. Or of course you can use it for its original purpose, as an airtight container for storing your favorite tea.
The round scarlet post box has been a familiar sight on Japan's streets for almost a century and a half. The Japan Post adopted the iconic design from the British Royal Mail postbox, as well as the distinctive red livery. Instead of the Royal Mail's coat of arms, however, the box is decorated with the kanji characters for Yuubin (Post Office) and one of the earliest logos in the world, the letter T (for 'Tsushin') with a bar across it, which debuted in 1877.
The tin comes filled with a 30g pack of Houjicha, a roasted black tea that is refreshing as a hot beverage in winter or iced tea in summer. The tea is from the famous Suzukien tea plantation in Saitama, Japan.
It's the perfect gift for designers, tea-lovers, Japanophiles or stamp collectors. [US$15, €13.20]