In Japanese cooking, this style of grilling with sweetened miso is called “dengaku”. Although perfect with roasted eggplant, this dengaku miso recipe also works well with tofu, rice cakes and other vegetables. The light roasting brings out the toasty caramel flavours of the miso for a wonderfully fragrant dish.
- 2-4 Japanese eggplants
- vegetable oil, for brushing
- toasted sesame seeds, kinome (see note) and grated ginger, to serve (optional)
- 100 g hatcho miso (red miso)
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Trim the tops from the eggplants and slice them in half lengthways. If you like, you can soak the eggplant in cold water for about 10 minutes, to remove some of the bitterness.
To make the dengaku miso, combine the ingredients to make a smooth paste. (If the miso is coarse, you may want to grind it slightly in a mortar and pestle.)
Lightly score the cut surfaces of the eggplant in a cross pattern, then brush with a little oil. Skewer the eggplant with long metal skewers and barbecue or grill over hot coals for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is browned, softened and cooked through. (If you prefer, you can roast the eggplant in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes.)
Brush the roasted eggplant with a thick layer of the dengaku miso and return to the barbecue for 2–3 minutes or until the miso is toasted and fragrant. Remove the skewers. If you like, you can scatter the eggplant with sesame seeds, or place a sprig of kinome into the centre of each eggplant. Serve with a little grated ginger, if desired.
• Kinome is the young leaves from the prickly ash plant. If you can’t find kinome, you can use finely sliced chives or spring onions instead. The flavour is very different, but the oniony chives will complement the sweet miso very well.