Eggplant! It’s a love-it-or-hate-it vegetable to most. I’m of the “love it” camp, forever encouraging the haters to try it just one more time. And this Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant recipe just might be the one that wins them over. Lightly charred on the edges, caramelized and gooey on the interior, it’s a culinary dance of sweet and salty. Perfection.
It’s also relatively simple to prepare, as I have forgone the salting and soaking of eggplant in all of my recipes. Eggplants are now grown to be less bitter, so that step is unnecessary. And Japanese eggplants, in particular, have fewer seeds so therefore are naturally sweeter. Plus the thin skin means no need to peel. The skin actually helps the flesh keep its integrity and not become a pile of mush.
In this recipe the eggplants are halved and scored and roasted, cut side down to soften the flesh. The eggplant halves are then flipped over and the marinade is applied to the cut side of the eggplant. Broil for a few minutes to a gently bubbling char, and dinner is ready. I like to serve the eggplant with soba noodles that I simply toss with a bit of low sodium soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Sushi rice is a great side as well. So easy!
Please note that Japanese and Chinese eggplant are similar and can be interchanged in this recipe. Choose eggplant on the smaller side, if possible, for quicker roasting – but do try to keep the sizes similar for even cooking.
Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant
7-8 Japanese eggplants
¼ cup white miso paste
1 T mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1 T unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 T water
2 T organic dark brown sugar
1 T fresh grated ginger (or to taste)
1 T toasted sesame seeds plus more for topping
1 T chopped fresh green onions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have one rack in the center and one rack 4 inches from the heat element.
Wash, dry and cut off the stem end of the eggplants. Cut the eggplants in half. Score the cut side with cross-hatch markings, being careful not to go too deep. (see photo above). Place the eggplant halves cut side down on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Roast 20- 30 minutes, depending on size and oven calibration. The skins should be starting to shrivel and the flesh soft.
While the eggplant is roasting, make the marinade. In a very small saucepan on low heat, gently warm the miso paste, mirin, rice wine vinegar and water until melted together. Whisking helps incorporate the ingredients. Add the sugar and ginger and continue to heat just until the sugar is dissolved, again whisking to combine everything. Remove from heat and stir in the one tablespoon of sesame seeds.
When the eggplant is softened, remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Carefully flip the eggplant halves over using a large spatula. Equally coat the cut sides of the eggplant halves with the marinade, using it all. The marinade is bit thick but the hot eggplant helps make it easier to spread. Make sure to cover to the edges.
Return the pan to the oven to the top rack, 4 inches from the heating element. Broil for 1-3 minutes. I like it very charred, so I go almost the full 3 minutes. All ovens are different, so pay close attention the first time you make this to see what works best. It may only take one minute or you may like it less charred. You just want to make sure that the marinade caramelizes.
Remove the pan and plate the eggplant. Top with more sesame seeds and chopped green onions.
Serve with soba noodles or sushi rice for a complete meal.
About Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.
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