I know a lot of people doesn’t particularly like eggplant (aubergine or brinjal, whatever you want to call it) because it is slimy when cooked. It is not necessary have to be that way. It gets too soft and slimy when cooked is because eggplant capable of absorbing large amount of oil or sauces while cooking, but there is a trick to avoid that and still keep it nice and firm.
Nasu Dengaku is a classic Japanese dish, by grilling the eggplant with miso paste. The first time I had this dish was at Uchi Lounge, and is one of their signature dishes. I totally fell in love with it, they grilled the eggplant with white miso paste and parmesan, the combination is so intense and the eggplant is so tender. So I was totally inspired and thought will try and cook Nasu Dengaku my version.
Instead of grilling it, I pan fried the eggplant; that way I can cut down the cooking time and still keep the eggplant in shape. Now, the trick to keep the eggplant still nice and firm when cooked is by “salting”. It is also called “degorging”, by sprinkling salt all over the eggplant slices, it will start to adsorb the water in the eggplant. By doing this, can also reduce the bitter taste of it. But make sure you rinse the salt off afterwards, if not your eggplant will be very salty.
This dish is seriously simple to cook. Japanese always can find a way to make everything taste fantastic! It is very clean to the palate, and yet healthy. As a chinese myself, I like to have this dish to go with steamed boiled rice. You can also have this as a side dish to go with a meaty main course. If you have never liked eggplant, or even you try one before, then I would suggest you give this recipe a try, and you may start to loving it before you can finish saying “Shizam!”
1. 1 big globe eggplant (choose the biggest because the skin will be used as serving cup bowl)
2. 3 tbsp white miso paste
3. 2 tbps mirin
4. 1/2 tsp sesame oil
5. 1 sheet nori to garnish
6. 1 tsp furikake to garnish
7. cracked sea salt (for “salting” process)
1. Cut the eggplant in half.
2. On one half, using a sharp knife, separate the flesh from the skin carefully. Once separated, quickly put the skin into a bowl of iced cold water. Then cut the flesh into chip-size strips.
3. On the other half, cut the remaining flesh into chip-size strips, discard the skin.
4. Spread all the eggplant on a baking tray, sprinkle with sea salt all over, leave it for 10mins to start the “salting” process.
5. Rinse off the salt, then paper dry.
6. Heat up a frying pan with olive oil.
7. Put the eggplant into the pan and keep stirring.
8. Add more oil if the eggplant start soaking some of the oil from the pan.
9. Add sesame oil, mirin and miso paste, mix well and coat all the eggplant.
10. Fry until eggplant nice and juicy, and not spongy.
11. Take the eggplant skin cup bowl out of the cold water and paper dry.
12. Serve the eggplant inside the eggplant skin bowl.
13. Fold the nori in half 3 times until becomes a small rectangle shape.
14. Use a scissor, cut the nori into thin strips.
15. Sprinkle the nori strips on top of the eggplan.
16. Sprinkle some furikake.
Ready to serve.