|Baked miso eggplant.|
I've recently gotten into making my own baked miso-glazed eggplant (nasu dengaku, a popular Japanese dish). Along the way, I've added my little touches. My version of nasu dengaku is not quite traditional, but I really like it. Many recipes I've seen cook the miso glaze prior to brushing it on the eggplant, but being lazy, I've devised a miso glaze that skips the cooking step - no extra saucepans to wash, hurrah! Now, more about this miso glaze: Instead of sugar, I used honey. (For a vegan option, try maple syrup instead.) I also added two exciting ingredients - Chinese black rice vinegar, for its complex character; and ground dried chilli, for a cheeky hint of spiciness. I like using eggplants that are not too narrow (so that it's more satisfying to dig in), but also not too voluptuous (so that it cooks easily for the much-sought-after melt-in-the-mouth texture).
The results are some beautifully dark roasted eggplants which are sweet, savoury, soft and silky. Simon and I both adore this. Whenever I cook this at his place, I make sure we buy at least two eggplants, so we get a whole one, or two halves, each. Even then, he still likes to tease by naughtily, greedily asking me if all the eggplants are for him. I chastise him but I secretly love it - while still making sure I get my fair share.
|Roasted eggplants with miso glaze. These may look almost burnt, but I can assure you it was actually perfection.|
baked miso eggplant, or nasu dengaku my non-traditional way
Part 1 (the eggplants):
2 eggplants (about 300g each / 2/3lb each)
a pinch of salt and a dash of oil, to brush before roasting
Part 2 (the miso glaze):
2 tablespoons miso (choose a gluten-free version if you have such a dietary requirement)
1/2 tablespoon honey (or, for a vegan substitute, maple syrup)
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon black rice vinegar, aka zhenjiang / chinkiang vinegar
1/2 tablespoon rice wine (e.g. mirin, sake, shaoxing)
1/8 teaspoon dried chilli condiment (e.g. red pepper powder, chilli flakes, shichimi)
Part 3 (the garnish):
toasted sesame seeds, shredded nori, or thinly sliced fresh spring onions to garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 180°C (360°F) fan-forced, or 200°C (390°F) conventional.
From the stem of the eggplant, slice down to cut each eggplant into halves of about the same size. Score each half with a criss-cross pattern, going as deep as you can without touching the skin at the bottom. This scoring step allows it to cook quicker and also makes it easier to scoop out to eat.
Brush, or rub in with your fingers, the cut side of the eggplant halves with a mix of salt and oil - a little should go a long way. Any neutral oil suitable for roasting is fine, I used rice bran oil.
Roast the eggplants in the oven, cut side up, for about 30 minutes. If your eggplants are very plump, you may need a bit longer. By the end of it, there should be some darkening on the surface of the eggplants, giving a toasted appearance.
While the eggplants are in the oven, prepare the miso glaze. Mix all the ingredients together until they're well-combined - and that's it!
When the eggplants are done roasting, retrieve from the oven and smooth on the miso glaze so that it evenly covers each of the cut surfaces. Then put the eggplants back into to the oven and bake for another 5 - 10 minutes, until the glaze starts to gently bubble.
Serve your not-so-traditional nasu dengaku on a plate. Add garnishes if you wish. Then, tuck in merrily with a spoon!
|My not-so-traditional version of nasu dengaku.|