Turning (to) Japanese: A recipe for Japanese Baked Eggplant

Criss Cross

I love Japanese food, but don’t eat it often. The deal is, most Japanese food relies on Dashi, which is a stock made from Bonito fish. Japanese food is based on it, just like our food is based so much on chicken stock (but more so). Even miso soup, which sounds so safe for vegetarians, is usually made with Dashi as a base.

So you see, I can only make Japanese food at home.

There are a couple of dishes that I make over and over again. A couple of eggplant dishes, a tofu dish and a noodle dish. So tonight, shall we talk about one of the eggplant dishes?

It is Sunday, but I had to spend the day doing my business’ bookwork, and then 3 to 4 hours at a client’s site. So I dash home, thinking what can I eat, and hear the eggplant calling me. Yes! A salad with wonderful Japanese eggplant with miso.

You won’t believe that this is eggplant! It is SO delicious!

Ingredient Notes

Mirin
Mirin is a Japanese sweet cooking wine. It is made from steamed mochigome rice, komekoji (rice yeast), and shochu (Japanese liquor), which are mixed and and fermented. Mirin is clear and light gold in color and is usually sold in a bottle. It adds a nice lustre to ingredients, as well as a wonderful aroma.

As it is an essential ingredient in Japanese cooking, it can be found in any Asian shop or sometimes in the gourmet section of supermarkets.

The use of mirin is said to have begun over 400 years ago. Although it was used for drinking in the beginning, it has been used for only cooking since it was made to be thicker and sweeter.

Toasted Sesame Oil
Toasted Sesame Oil is a wonderful secret ingredient to many Asian dishes including Chinese and Japanese. Use only the best quality, and organic if you can. Good quality, cold pressed Sesame Oil is made from high quality seeds that are carefully toasted and cold pressed to produce smooth, deeply flavoured and aromatic oil without the burnt seed flavour often found in lower quality oils.

The oil has a wonderful nutty flavour, but don’t use too much of it – it can be overpowering. A drizzle here, a drop there, is enough.

Recipe Notes

This is so very easy. Tonight I threw it in the oven, whipped up a salad, wrote a blog and then sat down for dinner.

Serving Notes

It is a perfect entree (a starter, or first course – not meaning main course here, a la US).

Or a great lunch with a salad.

Or add some tofu in a wonderous Asian sauce and some green veges glazed with a little sesame oil and lightly sprinkled with sesame seeds for a more substantial meal.

Eat with chop sticks. The blocks of eggplant come away very easily from the skin.

Grilled/Baked Eggplant with Mirin and Miso Paste

Source : inspired by Japanese eggplant dishes that I had in the past at Japanese restaurants. From my old Food_Matters site.
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Serves: 1/2 eggplant per person for an entree, 1 eggplant per person for a lunch or main course

ingredients
0.5 – 1 eggplant per person
mirin
toasted sesame oil
light – medium miso paste (if you use dark miso, spread it quite thinly)
sesame seeds – white or a combination of black and white

method
With a sharp knife, slice the eggplants in two lengthwise, then score deeply right around the edge of the flesh and cross-score the cut face to make a criss-cross pattern. This not only looks good but also makes the eggplant easier to eat.

Criss Crossed

Brush the cut surfaces lightly with sesame oil. Drizzle mirin over the surface, allowing it to sink into the cuts.

Take a little miso paste and, with a knife, smear it across the surface quite thinly, or the taste will overwhelm the dish. Push it a little into the cuts. (The lighter the miso that you use, the more of it you can put in the dish, but go carefully the first time that you make this.)

Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. You can make a nice pattern with the black and white sesame seeds.

Bake in a medium (200° Celcius) oven until quite soft, about 40 minutes or so. It is really important that it is cooked VERY WELL, otherwise it won’t be wonderful. You know how eggplant starts to collapse when it is cooked? Not quite there, but close.

Serve hot or at room temperature with pickled ginger and a green salad.

Eggplant and Miso

Other People Said:

  • Inbaelee has cooked this dish many times and it is now one of his (and his friend’s) favourites.

I personally think that it’s probably the best tasting eggplant dish I’ve ever had, and some of my friends agreed too.

Super-easy dish. The Life (Time) of Cooking put in a bit of a more effort to decorate with white and black sesame also, but I haven’t bothered trying that. Also, every time I made this I forgot to use the miso paste before I sprinkled the sesame seeds so I had to slurp in on the sides of the eggplants.

  • Joanne in the comments says:

so i tried this recipe out again this weekend. this time i used more mirin and less miso paste … SO TASTY …yummy!! i really love it. simple, but great recipe =)


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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
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14 Responses to Turning (to) Japanese: A recipe for Japanese Baked Eggplant

  1. richa says:

    the criss-cross cut on the eggplant looks lovely!
    Best Wishes for 2008!

  2. bhags says:

    The pics look inviting…..dont know if i wud be able to obtain these ingredients here…..but ill sure try

  3. VegeYum says:

    Hi richa, the criss cross is so easy to do, and makes such a difference to eating the eggplant. Best wishes to you, also. May 2008 bring you everything that you need and some of the things that you want :-)

    Hi bhags, hmm, you might have some trouble with the mirim, for example. Both black and white sesame seeds is not essential – it just looks nice. If you can get white only, that is Ok. perhaps don’t layer them as thickly as I did for the photo – thinly spread is Ok.

    A light sesame oil will do if you can’t get toasted. But mirim and miso are musts, I am afraid. Good luck with it!

  4. Asha says:

    Hi VY, happy new year to you!

    I am back blogging from today. You know I have only liked Mirin and Wasabi in Japanese cooking so far!:D

    Looks good, may be time for me to tey more of this cuisine.

  5. VeggieGirl says:

    wow, it’s made with eggplant??? brilliant!!! Love the variation!!!

    Happy belated new year :0)

  6. shivapriya says:

    Beautiful recipe. We have a vegan restaurant close to my place, I go there to eat Japanese food (vegan version) as its really safe:). This looks fabulous.

  7. nandita says:

    THis one looks dressed enough to hit the red carpet! WHat a lovely eggplant dish – only I am yet to find Japanese ingredients in my local stores, probably the crawford market towards South bombay has it, but I am yet to browse there….i have not been able to try out Japanese food in the two new restaurants here, because of the same vegetarian constraints.
    Beautiful photos.

  8. Suganya says:

    I have everything on hand. Can I use white miso?

  9. VegeYum says:

    Hi Suganya, yes, you can use white miso but it is much milder in taste, I think. Use more. Push it into the cuts of the eggplant. Also, don’t use as many sesame seeds as i did for the photos. Maybe about half, otherwise they might overwhelm the dish.

    Hi Nandita, thanks so much. Maybe some others know where to get Japanese ingredients in Mumbai? Anyone else know?

    How nice, sivapriya, to have a vegan restaurant close by. Not something that Australia does much of, I am afraid. I love going to the States and having the variety available.

    Hi Asha, welcome back. Happy New Year to you and Vegegirl. Looking forward to great food from you in 2008.

  10. Bri says:

    Yum! I love eggplant and Asian dishes with eggplant are always amazing. I’ll have to wait until it’s available locally, but this summer I’ll totally make this dish. Thanks!

  11. maritasays says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! That looks and sounds super-fantastic. A must try. Oh, and happy belated New Year to you!

  12. inbaelee says:

    I just wanted to come over and compliment on the recipe once again. It’s great, and I love it, and I will be making this regularly from hereafter. Kudos!

    BTW, I personally found that red miso pastes are very strong (maybe just the specific brand I bought) so I think next time I will be trying white miso and see how that goes.

    Thanks, inbaelee. Yes, do be careful of the miso. Spread it thinner, perhaps, or try the lighter styles. Thanks again – it is such a different dish that it always causes comment, and goes down really well with friends.

  13. Joanne says:

    i didn’t have time to run to the asian mart and wanted to make this (since i already have all the ingredients) so i used regular eggplant and it turned out a bit salty tasting. is using japanese eggplant a must, or did i do something else wrong to make it so salty? nonetheless, this recipe made my apartment smell great, and parts that were not salty tasted nice.

    this should be fine with ordinary eggplant, joanne. For me it has never been too salty. Maybe your miso paste is very very salty. Is it very old? Or maybe just a salty brand. I would use it much more thinly next time. I hope you get to experiment with it again.

  14. Joanne says:

    so i tried this recipe out again this weekend. this time i used more mirin and less miso paste … SO TASTY …yummy!! i really love it. simple, but great recipe =)

    Oh, that is so good. I am glad the story has a happy ending :-) .

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