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FLAVOR PROFILE: Umami with an herbaceous brightness

MOOD: First week into a plant-based diet / dinner parties at home / Top Chef Fridays

INGREDIENTS:

Eggplant, cut in half lengthwise with stems trimmed (we recommend Japanese or Baby Eggplant)

1 tbsp Shiro Miso

1 tsp Aka Miso

2 tsp Sake

1 tbsp Mirin

1 tsp Honey (or your choice of sweetener — Maple Syrup, Agave, or plain Sugar will work just fine)

1 tsp Shichimi

Pinipig (flattened glutinous rice), toasted in a pan with no oil over high heat until lightly browned

Herbs — we recommend Cilantro, Dill, Mint, Mizuna, or Pea Tendrils; leaves picked or roughly cut

Lemon Juice

Grapeseed Oil (or Olive Oil, and Canola Oil for frying)

Kosher Salt (and Sea Salt — flakes, optional)

Black Pepper

You will also need a blowtorch or an oven, and a wire rack would be great.

METHOD:

Prepare your miso sauce by mixing the shiro miso, aka miso, sake, mirin, honey, and shichimi together in a mixing bowl.

Before cooking, score the eggplant on the flat side with your knife by lightly slicing diagonal lines inside, making sure you don’t slice all the way through. Season the eggplant with kosher salt, then heat just a bit of grapeseed oil (if you don’t have grapeseed oil, you can use canola oil) in a pan over medium heat. Fry the eggplant flat side down first for about 5 minutes or until browned, then flip to the skin side and let that cook for a few more minutes or until the eggplant has just cooked all the way through — best to make sure the eggplant isn’t too soft or soggy, as you want to assemble the rest of the components on top of the eggplant. Remove them from the pan and set them flat side up on top of a wire rack to rest and to let the oils drip.

Prepare the herb salad by mixing about a cup worth of your picked / chopped herbs and leaves; then lightly dressing with a drizzle of grapeseed oil (or olive oil), mirin, honey, and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Finish with a pinch of salt (sea salt flakes, if you have it) and a few cracks of black pepper.

To assemble, cover the top / flat side of the eggplant with a tablespoon of the miso sauce (spread out evenly with a small / offset spatula), then blowtorch from the top until miso sauce is caramelized and bubbling. Cover the surface area with toasted pinipig, then top with herb salad to your liking. Transfer to a plate and enjoy!

Note: If you don’t have a blowtorch, you can use your oven by setting it on high (around 400-450°F) on conventional heating mode. Place the eggplant (miso side up) as close as possible to the top of the oven, and keep an eye on it. Remove once the miso sauce is caramelized and bubbling.

Got a backyard and feeling extra? Grill the eggplants over charcoal instead!

Need some of the Japanese ingredients used in this recipe? Check out our Japanese Pantry Kit to start creating your 12/10 dishes at home!

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