It is Japanese eggplant season at my house. Every week for the past few weeks, I have been harvesting two to three eggplants from the seedling I planted in early June. As it turns out, the variety I planted, called ‘Ichiban’, is a fast-growing and prolific producer of slender, purplish-black fruit. Like all eggplant, this Japanese hybrid thrives in warm weather, so it is very content in a warm, sunny spot in my garden.
Japanese eggplant is great for stir-frying, grilling, roasting, and broiling. It is thin-skinned and has a delicate, mild flavor. Eggplant can taste bitter if picked too early or too late. When harvesting, look for those with dark, glossy skin that are between 6 to 8 inches long. Ripe eggplant should feel firm; if it feels soft, and the skin has become dull, it is overripe. When cut open, underripe eggplant will have no visible seeds while overripe ones contain contain hard, dark seeds.
It seems only fitting to prepare the eggplant in the Japanese-style. I love how the soft and somewhat spongy texture of the cooked eggplant soaked up the sweet-salty flavor of the caramelized miso glaze. The sesame oil added a nutty flavor and aroma, which is a distinctive characteristic of Asian cooking. While sesame oil is more often used as a finishing oil because it loses flavor as it cooks, in this case, adding it to the glaze before caramelization minimizes its potential to be overpowering and mellows out its flavor a little bit.
Miso-Glazed Japanese Eggplant
Yields 4 servings
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sake
1/4 cup white, or “shiro” miso
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
4 Japanese eggplants, stemmed, split in half lengthwise and then cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces
vegetable oil, as needed to coat eggplant
2 teasoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
sliced scallions, for garnish
Adjust oven rack to 6 inches from the heating element and preheat broiler to high heat.
Combine mirin, sake, miso, sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl and mix until well-combined. Taste to adjust seasoning. (Surprisingly, I needed to add a little bit of salt to the glaze mixture, but make sure you taste and season accordingly. I also like the sesame oil flavor, so I added a little more than the 1/2 teaspoon called for in the recipe.) Set aside.
Score eggplant slices in a cross-hatch pattern and coat completely with vegetable oil. Broil eggplant, cut-side down, for about 5 minutes. Turn over and continue to cook until almost tender, about 3 – 4 minutes longer.
Remove from heat and brush the miso glaze on the cut surface of the eggplant and place on a broiler pan, cut-side up. Broil until completely cooked and the glaze has caramelized, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.
Adapted from Serious Eats.
You might also like:
© Daisy’s World, 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Daisy’s World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.