I am a huge eggplant fan, but it wasn’t always so. As a super picky kid who would only eat soy sauce and rice, eggplant seemed like it was the worst vegetable ever. I totally didn’t get why my mom and dad would always order eggplant when we went out for dinner. The couple of times my mom forced me to eat it, it tasted…slimy and kind of weird. It was definitely nothing to get excited about.
I’m not sure when I started to like eggplant, but now it’s one of my favourite vegetables. I LOVE it’s texture which is funny because as a kid, it was exactly what I hated about it. If you cook it right, eggplant has a dreamy, creamy texture that I can’t get enough of. If you’re not such a huge fan of eggplant, you should give this recipe a try. Even as a hardcore eggplant fan, the first time I tasted nasu dengaku, or miso broiled eggplant, was a revelation.
It was at a neighbourhood sushi joint – one that has quite a reputation. Everyone in line (yes, there’s a line, nightly) told me to try the eggplant. When it came to our table, I wasn’t convinced. It was extra brown and not particularly exciting looking. But after the first bite I was hooked – I had to recreate it at home. It’s super simple: bake up an eggplant, cover it with a miso, mirin, sake mixture, broil it and then it’s hello deliciousness! Baking eggplant softens and sweetens it into a delicious melty mess with the best texture. Add in a bit of caramelization and you’ve got a dish reminiscent of creme brûlée, only with a sweet and salty miso crust and a creamy eggplant custard.
Oven-Roasted Eggplant with Caramelized Miso Recipe
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 2 tablespoons shiro miso
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- toasted sesame seeds
- sliced green onions
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the mirin and sake in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the miso and stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar, and reduce to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while you broil the eggplants.
Brush the cut sides of the eggplants with the sesame oil. Put the eggplants cut-side down on a baking sheet and place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on eggplant size, until they just start to shrivel. The flesh should be fork tender. Remove from the oven and turn them over.
Top the eggplants with all of the miso sauce and put them under the broiler until the sauce bubbles up and starts to caramelize, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, rest for 5 minutes and enjoy with sesame seeds and green onions!
Note: I used big eggplants here because that’s all I could find from the store. They taste just as good, but add a couple of minutes while baking. Usually when eating these, we just scoop out the flesh and leave the skin behind, but if you like eggplant skin, feel free to eat it, of course!