from one generation to the next
Miso is a new ingredient in my kitchen. My past miso eating experience has been limited to soup and a few attempts at eating oily miso eggplant at below average Japanese restaurants. The flavour of this curious ingredient is quite appealing to me, so I’ve began my miso experiments attempting to reproduce and improve familiar dishes.
I made a very simple soup with white miso, wombok cabbage and silken tofu. It was delicious. My next challenge was to make an eggplant dish with a miso glaze and a soft texture without it being saturated in oil.
Because Asian cuisines have developed without ovens, frying or char grilling are the usual cooking methods for eggplant. Eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge when fried and I find that characteristic unpalatable.
Inspired by a recipe in Adam Liaw’s “Asian After Work” I simply coated prepared eggplant pieces in a thin film of quality olive oil the baked it. I tossed the roasted eggplant in seasoned miso paste and returned it to the oven to caramelize. It had soft buttery texture and delicious flavour without a trace of oiliness.
On consecutive nights we taste tested batches of eggplant separately dressed with white and red miso. Red miso is more savoury then the white variety and an outright personal preference.
A handy tip for toasting black sesame seeds is to mix them with some white sesame seeds before adding them to the pan. The black seeds will be done when the white seeds are golden.
Oven roasted miso eggplant
(adapted from Asian After Work by Adam Liaw)
6 Japanese eggplants (finger variety)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons red miso
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon of water
Stir all the ingredients to a smooth paste
1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sliced garlic chives
Preheat the oven to 200C and line an ovenproof tray with baking paper.
Cut the eggplants into 2 cm dice and place in a colander. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and allow to drain for 20 minutes.
Rinse the salt off the eggplant then pat them dry in a clean tea towel. In a bowl toss the eggplant in the oil, then arrange them in a single layer on the paper lined tray.
Bake the eggplants for 20 minutes.
Return the eggplants to the bowl, toss the through the miso dressing then return them to the tray.
Bake the eggplants for another 10 minutes, or until caramelized.
Transfer the eggplant to a serving dish and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and garlic chives.
Serves 6 as a side dish.