Aubergine, also known as the ‘poor man’s caviar’ presents itself as the ultimate vehicle of flavour in a number of vegan and vegetarian dishes. These include dahl, moussaka, lasagne, vegetarian burgers, and it can even be prepared in such a way as to mimic bacon. Since switching to a pescatarian diet, I have been experimenting more with this versatile vegetable, and of the myriad of aubergine varieties. This week I tried Nasu Dengaku which translates to “eggplant grilled over a fire”.
I would describe this hearty Japanese side dish as being
like a savoury alternative to a bowl of ice cream. Spooning the soft,
caramelised flesh out of the skin is reminiscent of digging in and polishing
off a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. Of course, aubergines have much more
nutritional value and health benefits, such as helping with digestion,
improving heart health and increasing brain function.
Nasu Dengaku is cheap and easy to make, perfect for a
student such as myself. The process is simple: score, fry for depth of flavour,
glaze, and bake! I can’t wait to share this with other veggie friends, though next
time I might elevate the dish by serving it with a soba noodle citrus salad. I
think something fresh like a juicy tangerine would do well to enhance the
unique, sweet and savoury miso glaze taste.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 2):
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp white miso paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 spring onion
Pre-heat the oven 200 degrees and then begin by slicing
your aubergine in half lengthways. Take your knife and score across the flesh
in a cross-hatch motion, as far as you can without cutting into the skin. This
should create diamond-like shapes that the miso paste can run through.
Add oil to a grill pan and keep on a medium
heat. Place the aubergine flesh-down and soften for 4 minutes on each side.
Meanwhile, prepare the miso sauce.
Add the miso paste, sugar and white wine vinegar
to a bowl and mix.
Place the aubergine in the middle of the oven
for 10 minutes, flesh facing upwards.
Remove from the oven, spread on the miso paste and
place back into the oven for 10 minutes allowing the paste to caramelise and
seep into the cracks.
Finally, garnish with a sprinkling of sesame
seeds and chopped spring onion.