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Eggplant Disks with Miso Sauce

Updated February 23, 2016
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Nasu, Japanese eggplant, is generally short and slim. However, there are several varieties. One of them is kamonasu, a specialty in the Kyoto region. Kamonasu is larger than an ordinary Japanese eggplant, and its shape is round. Imagine having a soft clay model of a medium American eggplant, and rolling it in your hands to shape it into a ball. This is how kamonasu appears. This dense-fleshed variety is suitable for deep-frying, the technique used in this recipe, or for simmering. In this preparation, the cooked eggplant is topped with a delightful sweet miso sauce. This sauce keeps for two weeks, covered, in the refrigerator. It is a nice condiment to serve with plain cooked white or brown rice.

The simplest way to enjoy sesame seeds, either black or white, is to toast them briefly, then grind them roughly. To toast sesame seeds, heat a skillet over low to medium heat. When it is hot, add the seeds and cook them, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the seeds are heated through and plump-looking, about 1 to 2 minutes. Roughly grind the seeds in a suribachi or smooth-walled ceramic or marble mortar, but you will have to work much harder to crush the seeds. Then sprinkle the seeds over plain cooked rice, or mix them with miso and spread the mixture over slices of hot toast. I believe that consuming a small portion of sesame seeds every day, whether with rice or with bread, contributes greatly to my health.

4 servings

Cooking Methodbaking, frying

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursehot appetizer, vegetable

Dietary Considerationegg-free, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentdeep fryer, mortar and pestle

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, rich, salty, savory, sweet, umami, winey

Type of Dishmarinades, vegetable

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons mamemiso (soybean miso)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • ¼ cup sake (rice wine)
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallion, green part only
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 kamonasu or 1 medium American eggplant, stemmed
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds or toasted white sesame seeds (see Notes)
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 5 shiso leaves, preferably, or mint leaves, julienned

Instructions

In a saucepan, combine the miso, mirin, and sake, and mix with a spatula until smooth. Add the sugar, and place the pan over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture until it is no longer watery, about 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the scallion and sesame oil, and mix. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and set it aside.

Cut each eggplant into four 2-inch thick disks. Make several shallow cuts in a checkerboard pattern on one cut surface of each disk. With a toothpick, prick the entire surface of the other cut surface.

In a skillet, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 340 degrees F. Fry the eggplant over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cut surfaces are golden and the eggplant is cooked through. Drain the eggplant on a paper towel. (As an alternative to deep-frying the eggplant, you can rub it with 1/3 cup oil and bake it at 375 degrees F until it is soft and golden.)

Serve the eggplant hot, topped with the miso sauce and garnished with the sesame seeds and shiso.

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