Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roasted eggplants with miso paste

Eggplants cooked with miso is a very popular Japanese dish. I have seen two versions. Nasu-miso and Nasu-dengaku. The first is pan-fried eggplant with a miso glaze and the latter is grilled eggplant with a miso glaze. I like to roast the eggplants and then cook it with the miso glaze. This method takes longer, but compared to pan frying, the eggplant requires very little oil to cook and roasting keeps the eggplant moist. I cook the eggplants three-fourth of the way through and then apply the miso glaze and cook it for a few more minutes for the glaze to form a nice crust and the eggplant is cooked through completely. 

The creamy texture of the roasted eggplant pairs well with the sweet, tangy and salty sauce. I add plum vinegar to the glaze which imparts a fruity, tangy and salty flavor, but if you did not have it, you could substitute with unseasoned rice vinegar. I have used the regular globe eggplant, but this recipe would probably work even better with the slender almost seedless Japanese eggplant.

Roasted eggplants with miso paste

1 medium sized eggplant cut into a little thicker than ½ inch slices, about 8 slices
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 spring onions, green parts only thinly sliced

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
2. Take a ¼ sheet tray i.e. a 8” x 12” baking sheet and spread 1 tablespoon canola oil. Heat the tray for 15 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Then place the eggplant slices on the greased pre-heated tray and brush the eggplants with the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place it back in the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes.
3. After 15 minutes, remove the tray from the oven and flip the eggplants so as to brown the other side as well. Let the eggplants cook for another 15 minutes.
4. In the meantime, combine the miso paste, mirin, plum vinegar, sesame oil and sugar to form the glaze.
5. When the eggplants have been in the oven for half an hour, remove the tray and spread about ½ to ¾ teaspoon of the miso glaze evenly over the eggplants. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and put back in the oven to complete cooking. After another 15 minutes, the glaze will begin to form a crust and the eggplant will be fully cooked. Remove the tray from the oven. Transfer the eggplant slices to a serving platter and garnish with the sliced green onions.

Serves 3

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