Miso-glazed eggplant

Umami, that Japanesiest of Japanese flavours, that fifth flavour world beyond the sweet, salty, sour and bitter we’re so familiar with… If you want a dish that epitomises umami, this is it.

Deliciously seasoned miso paste sets off the earthy bitterness of grilled eggplant to reveal a complex yet subtle combination of flavours. Grilling your eggplants will result in a caramelised finish to this melt-in-your-mouth dish. I love to serve these as an accompaniment to a simple meal of braised tofu, stir-fried green veg (choi sum, gai lan, or bok choi), and seaweed salad, allowing the eggplant to take centre-stage.

If you’re not an eggplant fan, try this and see if that changes… 😉

Flavour: Savoury & salty (really, it’s umami)

Serves: 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Japanese eggplants (you may know these as Asian eggplant, Lebanese eggplant, or Thai eggplant)
  • 4 tablespoons mild miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I use coconut sugar or rapadura; raw will do)
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • pinch of salt
  • sprinkle of white pepper

To garnish:

  • Finely sliced spring onion, green parts only
  • Toasted sesame seeds (you can dry-toast 1 teaspoon sesame seeds in a small skillet – they’ll only take 3-5 minutes to colour up)

Directions:

  1. Cut eggplants in half lengthways, and cut each length in half – yielding 4 pieces from each eggplant
  2. Brush your pieces of eggplant with sunflower oil, and sprinkle with salt and white pepper
  3. Grill your eggplant cut side down on high heat for about 5 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, stir together your miso paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar – you’ll end up with a thick paste to spread on your eggplants
  5. Flip your eggplants cut side up, and top each piece with your miso mix – grill cut side up for another 5 minutes
  6. Flip your eggplants once more, and grill cut-side down for 2 minutes to get a lovely caramelised finish
  7. Plate up your miso-glazed eggplants, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and spring onions

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