So onto the eggplant. I have never liked the name eggplant, considering the varieties that look like eggs rarely pop up anymore. Also know as aubergines, or in Japanese, nasu (茄子). Some funny facts about the eggplant: it is part of the nightshade family like tomatoes and potatoes, is related to the tobacco plant, and has more nicotine than any other edible plant. Still, you would have to eat 20lbs of eggplants to equal one cigarette. Wikipedia is a crazy place.
Japanese eggplants are generally very dark thin-skinned, almost black, and long and skinny. There are round Japanese varieties but they still have the hallmark thin skin, so most Japanese eggplant dishes do not peel them. I decided to make some traditional izakaya (pub) food, nasu dengaku (茄子田楽). For this recipe, the eggplants are split in half, grilled and then slathered with a sweet miso sauce that gets caramalized for a smooth sweet/salty/smokey snack that is delicious on its own or with rice.
Now the Japanese eggplant, like I said above, is usually prepared with the skin on, and it is firm enough that it does not need to be salted beforehand to reduce wateriness. Depending on the variety you choose, you might want to peel it and slice it into 1/2" rounds if it is too big. I think Mr. Mochi would like this better, as he did not care for skin of the eggplant (or eggplant at all actually, but we will work on this).
|Go go toaster oven!|
Nasu Dengaku (茄子田楽)
2 Japanese eggplants
2 tbs red or white miso (or both!)
2 tbs mirin, or sake
1 tbs sugar (if using sake, use 2 tbs sugar)
|cut into a crosshatch pattern|
|Spread with miso yumminess|
This dish is traditionally grilled, so if you have a grill feel free to grill eggplant, but finish under a broiler to get the nice caramelized miso.
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