Do you know your miso? It’s a mysterious and ancient ingredient from the far East reputed for its health benefits. In this recipe it transforms an ordinary aubergine (or eggplant) into a soft-centred sticky glazed Japanese delicacy. This versatile vegan recipe for miso aubergine can be served as main dish or side.
For more than a meal, serve with Miso Noodles with Tenderstem Broccoli for a Japanese inspired banquet.
A thoroughly roasted aubergine is surprisingly silky and creamy. And a sticky miso roast aubergine is like no other aubergine recipe out there.
There are so many flavours and textures ready to burst out of its dark purple skin. You just can’t argue with centuries of East Asian cooking.
Known as Nasu Dengaku, the traditional Japanese method calls for flame-roasting aubergines over an open fire. The result would be a crisp, charred and smoky skin that cupped the silky flesh inside.
However, fire cooking is a refined skill that takes years of practise, as any barbecue enthusiast will tell you. And besides, where I live, we don’t really have the weather for it.
My method is definitely more lo-fi and hands-off: just a few minutes to prep your glaze and score the aubergines, then slide them into a 21st century oven. Then you can sit back and contemplate the sound of one hand clapping.
As well as being more risk averse, oven-roasting your aubergine yields a slightly different flavour. Where a char tastes bitter and burnt, a gentle roast will just catch edges and caramelise. The result is a glaze that is sweet, almost sticky toffee flavour, that doesn’t overwhelm the miso-infused aubergine flesh.
What miso to use
The expansive world of miso is a confusing and complex place, there are literally hundreds of different types with tones ranging from mellow and mild to pungent and funky. A lot like coffee or wine. Here are some of the varieties readily available in stores outside East Asia, what they taste like and when to use them:
- White miso (aka shiro) which has a high white rice content. It’s mild and mellow, due to the shortest fermentation time of all misos. Your go-to for soups, salad dressings and sweeter marinades.
- Yellow miso (aka shinshu) has added white rice or barley. It’s semi-sweet and earthy and used in both savoury and sweet dishes. It’s slight saltiness gives an edge to chocolate brownies or ice-cream recipes.
- Red miso (aka aka) has a higher ratio of soybeans to rice. It’s salty and tangy, so most often used in dark sauces and marinades.
- Brown miso (aka mame) is made with brown rice. It’s profound and complex, and is fermented the longest (at least two years) in wooden barrels. The most intense of all of the above!
Are we all miso masters now?
What to serve it with
I could quite contentedly eat a whole roast aubergine as a main meal. I like mine with white rice delicately flavoured with a little ginger and spring onion and a side of sauteéd Chinese greens. Or you could serve it with a soba noodle salad.
For something more hearty, a crispy katsu is the perfect partner. A crunchy crumbed sweet potato or tofu contrasts the silky smooth aubergine giving you the best of both texture worlds.
Recipe tips and notes
- A large plump and firm aubergine may be tempting, but select the small to medium-sized ones. They will be less bitter, contain fewer seeds and cook quicker. So no risk of a spongy centre.
- Score the flesh deeply so the flavours can penetrate to the very edges of your aubergine. Be careful not to perforate the skin so no liquid can leak out and moisture be lost.
- For deliciously slippery aubergine flesh, baste halfway through cooking. The flavour and texture will be consistent throughout making every mouthful a delight.
- Feel free to substitute with alternative chilli pastes. I use gochujang as it’s sweet and subtly smoky. But use sriracha or sambal oelek if you prefer a fiery punch.
Storage and leftovers
Any leftover glazed aubergine can be covered and stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. The aubergine will continue to marinate over that time so it will taste even richer. To reheat, return it to a preheated oven for 10 minutes or until warm all the way through.
- 2 aubergines, medium
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon Gochujang paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Make the paste by mixing together miso, Gochujang, brown sugar, soy sauce, mirin and the vegetables oil.
- Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise, then score them deeply without cutting the skin in a criss cross fashion. Spread the paste all over the cut side and cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Baste with the paste halfway through the cooking time.
- Serve sprinkled with sliced red chillies and green onions over rice or couscous.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 164Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 456mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 7gSugar: 14gProtein: 3g
Nutritional information is calculated using third-party services and is only a guideline. There may be some variations based on product brands and cooking methods. If you are on a restricted diet, it is recommended that you supplement this info with your own research.