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5 from 8 votes

Vegan Unagi Bowl made from eggplant

This vegan unagi is made from eggplant that has a tender texture on the inside that is basted in a delicious sweet and savory sauce. It's perfect when serving with a bowl of your favorite grains and I highly recommend a nori sheet for the extra seafoody taste.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese
Keyword: Eggplant, veganunagi
Servings: 2
Author: woonheng


  • 1 pound Chinese or Japanese Eggplant
  • A few stalks of scallions
  • 1 sheet of nori cut into square to fit the bowl
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cooked rice or your favorite grains
  • Cooking oil


  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • cup of hot water
  • 1 teaspoon kombu dashi or kelp powder see notes
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon sugar


  • In a medium bowl, whisk the mirin, hot water, kelp powder, light soy sauce, maple syrup, and until combined. Set aside.
  • Trim off the eggplant top, then cut into 4 or 5-inch sections. Steam over high heat until tender, about 8-10 minutes. I used a bamboo steamer in this step.
  • Once the eggplant is cooled down, use a sharp knife to cut it open like a book but be careful not to cut through the skin. Then, make another slit on the right, then left. Now, score the flesh to create a holder for the sauce. (See pictures above or video)
  • Heat a non-stick pan with a drizzle of oil over medium heat. Place the eggplant in, cut side down.
  • Pan-fry until golden brown before flipping. Slowly baste the flesh with sauce, one tablespoon at a time. I used about 2.5 tablespoons for each eggplant section.
  • Then, flip one more time so the flesh is now at the bottom and allow it to absorb all the remaining sauce from the pan. You may have extra sauce left and this can be reduced further in a pan and used as drizzle.
  • To serve, season scallions with oil and salt. Using a hand torch, char until golden brown and fragrant.
  • To assemble, place cooked rice in a bowl, top with cut nori, then eggplant. Drizzle with the extra sauce (optional) and garnish with sesame seeds and charred scallions.



  • *If you can't find kelp or kombu dashi powder, feel free to use homemade kombu dashi stock to replace the 1/3 cup of water. 
  • Leftover sauce can be reduced to serve as a drizzle or stored in a jar (refrigerated) for the next meal.