This is a lovely dish with a wonderful, lightly sweet umami flavour that we are sure will delight you as much as it does us. It is quick and easy to make and hits the spot when you get that craving for something Japanese but don't want to order it in or go to the restaurant. Preparing this dish at home with a good olive oil like Opus Oléa rather than other oils usually used for it, gives it that great additional healthy kick and makes it much easier on your digestion. It can be served with rice or quinoa to make a flavourful vegan-friendly meal.
If your local supermarket happens to not carry all of the ingredients in this recipe (most larger supermarkets in the UK now carry them all in their "Asian" section), you can easily source them online or try to visit a health store or an Asian specialty supermarket of which there are many all over the UK. It is worth your while, as these ingredients work well in a multitude of other dishes, salads, dips and marinades.
Serves 4 as a starter and 2 as a main
2 whole large eggplant, washed
80 ml Opus Oléa extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white miso paste
1.5 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
sesame seeds and sliced spring onion to garnish
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius
2. Cut eggplant in half and use a sharp knife to score diagonally in a diamond shape as shown in the image below (here the eggplant have already been baked - we love the way they look!). Be sure not to cut through the dark skin of the eggplant. Liberally brush the cut side of the eggplant with the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and place in the center of your pre-heated oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
3. While your eggplant is baking, mix together all the other ingredients (except the garnish of sliced spring onions and sesame seeds) in a small bowl to form a well-mixed thickish liquid.
4. Remove the eggplant from the oven at the end of the cooking time and and check that it has cooked through with the tip of a sharp knife. Depending on the size of the eggplant you are using there may be variation in the cooking time. The flesh must be tender all the way through, that's when eggplant transforms into something quite special and versatile. So if your eggplant is cooked through, brush the cut side of it with your mixture of ingredients. Set your oven to the grill setting and wait until the grill is hot. Then place your eggplant under the grill for 4-5 minutes until they are nicely glazed, lightly browned and have a slight char to them.
5. Serve the eggplant on a plate, liberally garnished with slices of spring onion and sesame seeds. It makes for a lovely starter or side to another dish or can be served as the main event with a side of salad and rice or quinoa.
This is a delicious dish that is also healthy. The olive oil and eggplant are full of antioxidants that protect cells from oxidation and many diseases. Eggplant is low in calories but high in much-needed fiber. It contains minerals and vitamin C. Miso paste is also full of vitamins and minerals, as well as the good bacteria that your gut needs to be in best form. We love miso paste for its complex taste that lends great depths to many sauces, glazes and marinades.