This is a dish I make for people unfamiliar with Japanese home cooking, because it is an instant winner, said Emiko Davies. Silky aubergine and intensely flavourful sweet miso sauce is just an unforgettable combination.
You can eat nasu dengaku as a side dish, in which case this is enough for four to share, or turn it into a meal on its own with a crunchy, zingy cabbage salad. In either case, you need a bowl of freshly steamed rice nearby as a foil for the richness of this wonderful dish.
Ingredients: serves four as a side dish
- 1 large aubergine
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 tbsp brown miso
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 2 tsp sugar (I like raw demerara/turbinado sugar here)
- To garnish: sesame seeds or finely chopped spring onion (green parts only)
- Cut the aubergine in half lengthways, then score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern about 2cm wide to make it easier to eat with chopsticks. I also like to trim a small (5mm) section of the skin on the bottom so that the aubergine doesn't wobble, and sits flat.
- Heat a 1-2cm depth of vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine halves until they become deep brown and tender, about 3 minutes on each side. Frying is the secret to the silky texture. Remove carefully from the oil and let drain on a wire rack.
- Heat the grill element of your oven (or heat the oven to 220°C/430°F/gas 8 if you don't have this function).
- Mix the miso, soy sauce, mirin and sugar together to make a smooth paste and warm in a small saucepan to dissolve the sugar. If it is too thick, add a splash of water to loosen a little and mix until smooth, then remove from the heat.
- Place the aubergine, with the criss-cross sides up, on a baking tray and cover with a thick coating of the miso mixture, about 1-2 tablespoons. Place under the grill until the miso paste is bubbling around the edges, about 2-3 minutes (if using the oven to roast, place the tray on the top shelf and bake for several minutes or until the miso paste begins to bubble and brown slightly).
- Serve sprinkled with the toasted sesame seeds or finely chopped spring onions.
Recipe from "Gohan: Everyday Japanese Cooking" by Emiko Davies, published by Smith Street Books at £26. Photography by Yuki Sugiura. To buy from The Week Bookshop for £20.99 (incl. p&p), call 020-3176 3835 or visit theweekbookshop.co.uk.
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