The first time I ever tried miso and eggplant together I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. At Nishiki, a little Japanese restaurant in Auckland, they serve it with grilled cheese and, seriously, the eggplant goes sweet and sticky and the cheese goes melty and gooey and it’s a flavour and texture explosion in your mouth. This version isn’t topped with cheese but it’s still a wonderful side dish, or even great tossed through a simple green salad.
Makes: 4 serves
Takes: 10 minutes to prep; 30 minutes to cook
Vegetarian | Vegan | Dairy-free | Gluten-free
2 large eggplants, cut into 2cm cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons shiro miso (white fermented soybean paste)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 spring onions, finely chopped
small handful coriander leaves
toasted sesame seeds to serve
Method: Preheat your oven to 180°c. Line a roasting pan with baking paper. Toss the eggplant with the olive oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place in the lined roasting pan and bake for 20 minutes until the eggplant is starting to brown. Whisk together the miso paste, rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, mirin, garlic and ginger. Pour over the roasted eggplant, tossing well to coat. Roast for another 5–10 minutes, until the miso sauce is beginning to caramelise. Place in a serving dish and scatter with spring onion, coriander and sesame seeds.
Variation 1: This recipe works with the larger European eggplants more commonly found in New Zealand. But you can also use Japanese eggplants (the smaller, lighter purple variety). Cut the Japanese eggplants in half lengthways, and lightly score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern. Brush with olive oil, and bake for 20 minutes, as per the recipe above. Then brush the cut side with a thick layer of the miso mixture before returning to the oven for 10 minutes, until caramelised.
Variation 2: For a more Israeli take on baked eggplant, toss with pomegranate molasses instead of the miso mixture, and serve sprinkled with crumbled feta, fresh pomegranate and coriander.