Last updated Wednesday, July 23, 2014 07:02am

PARIS, Aug 26 — Each week, Relaxnews invites a master chef to share insights into the gourmet kitchen by presenting a favorite ingredient. Hiroki Yoshitake, chef at the Michelin-starred Sola restaurant in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, shares his perspective on one of the world's most internationally appreciated vegetables: eggplant.

Relaxnews: What led you to choose this ingredient?

Hiroki Yoshitake: Eggplants are one of the most widely known vegetables and are popular in France and Japan alike.

R: What is your best kitchen memory associated with this ingredient?

HY: When I was backpacking, traveling around the world, I found that this vegetable featured in all of the world's cuisines.

R: When is this ingredient in season?

HY: In late summer (July, August, September).

R: What is the best way to prepare it?

HY: Good oil brings out the best flavor from eggplants, which is why it is important to choose a high-quality oil. Eggplants can be fried, grilled, or roasted over a wood fire.

R: Can you share a recipe?

HY: Grill eggplants over a fire until the skin begins to detach. Remove the skin and serve with soy sauce, ponzu sauce (soy sauce and yuzu vinegar), or a vinaigrette ...

R: What other products can be combined with eggplants to delight and surprise the taste buds? What are the most common mistakes made when preparing this ingredient?

HY: Eggplants go well with pork, lamb, oily fish, tomato, curry powder, and paprika. One mistake is to start out by cooking at a low temperature, as the eggplant will absorb all of the oil and become too greasy.

R: How do you offer this ingredient on your current menu?

HY: Currently at the Sola, I offer a grilled turbot dish with grilled eggplant purée and wasabi stems.

R: What wine (or other alcohol) goes best with this ingredient?

HY: A very dry sake. — AFP-Relaxnews