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.
Author: Elle Jardine