Eggplants, aubergines or brinjals; call them what you will, but most of us are pretty much clueless as to what to do with this perfect purple delight. Along with an undeserved reputation for being bitter, eggplants are unjustly thought of as greasy. Typically shallow fried, eggplant’s absorbent flesh is easily saturated with excessive amounts of oil and can result in the dish becoming too rich. Luckily, however, there are a couple of ways to cook eggplants without the need to have your local cardiac surgeon on speed-dial, those being steaming and roasting. As the name of the recipe suggests this dish involves the latter method and the results are just to die for, as roasted eggplants and miso are quite simply a match made in heaven.
Traditionally nasu dengaku is made with eggplants that have been cut in half and then grilled, but this method only really works with thin Japanese eggplants which are, unfortunately, quite hard to come by in Cape Town. As such, you are welcome to oven-roast halved eggplants if you prefer, but it just seems so much easier to cube them instead, as the end result isn’t that dissimilar and makes for a more chopstick-friendly meal.
This dish makes for a wonderful addition to any Japanese spread and is also great in salads or even sandwiches (nasu dengaku on a ham and cheese sandwich would be all kinds of awesome!).
Nasu Dengaku なす田楽 (Oven Roasted Eggplant with Miso): Serves 4 as a side dish
- 2 medium eggplants
- Olive oil
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- White sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 tbsp. miso paste
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- 2 tbsp. mirin
- 1 tbsp. sake
- 1 tbsp. hot water
- Preheat your oven to 200°C
- Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes and spread on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with some sea salt. Toss everything together and place in the preheated oven. Roast for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked through and has slightly browned. Give everything a shake mid-way through the cooking time
- In a bowl add the miso paste, sugar, mirin, sake and hot water. Mix until combined
- Pour the miso mixture over the eggplants and gently toss to combine. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the miso starts to get sticky and caramelise
- Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle over the sliced spring onions and sesame seeds