Did you see some broiled, miso-glazed eggplants hiding out amongst the pork belly stew last time? If you did, my dear hawk-eyed reader, then perhaps you also thought to yourself, “Forget the pork belly! Tell me how to make those eggplants!” For surely, this little scene did not only happen in my head.

Well, here, at long last, is that eggplant recipe!

It now seems silly that I took so long to write this follow-up post. Seriously, these eggplants are easier to make than, well, just about anything else (except maybe toast since you know, toast is pretty easy). They make a great side dish and an even better snack, especially with some cold sake. In fact, the first time I had these was at an izakaya which, as an aside, I must say that the Japanese have us Americans beat when it comes to bar snacks.

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables but it’s also one I cook with at home rarely. Have you noticed that most recipes involving eggplants also involve cuploads of oil? Many eggplant-based dishes call for deep-frying the eggplants, including my beloved Fish-Fragrant Eggplants (which, as another aside, has my vote for most misleading name for a dish ever, since there’s no fish involved and it certainly doesn’t evoke the ‘fragrance’ of a fish either). While I will happily eat deep-fried eggplants at restaurants, I personally don’t ever get the urge to deal with large volumes of oil at home. So whenever I find eggplant recipes that manage to not resort to deep-frying, I jump for joy.

*Jump*

4-5 Japanese eggplants (the smallish, skinny ones)
sesame oil
1 tbsp white miso
2 tsp sake
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
handful of chopped green onion
sesame seeds

Cooking the eggplants: Because eggplants take longer to cook than it takes the miso paste to start caramelizing, we need to first pre-cook the eggplants so they’re soft before applying the miso coating. Preheat your broiler and position a rack right below it.

Cut the top off of each eggplant, then slice lengthwise down the middle. (If you have time, you can even sprinkle salt over the pieces and let them sit in a colander for about 30 min to draw out some of the water.) Rub each piece of eggplant with a little bit of sesame oil.

Arrange the pieces, skin side up, on a baking sheet. Broil for about 10 min. Use tongs to flip the eggplants over (skin side down now) and broil again for another 5 min. Now check the eggplants for doneness with a fork – the flesh should be quite soft and starting to become mushy (Is that unappetizing? How about ‘silky’?). If they’re not done, flip the eggplants back (skin side up) and continue broiling. In my case, I repeated the flipping process twice before my eggplants were done.

Preparing the miso coating: While the eggplants are cooking, mix together the white miso, sake, mirin, and sugar. You should get a pretty thick paste. Taste a little bit of this paste and see if you want to add more sugar or miso to adjust sweetness or saltiness.

Finishing: Once the eggplants are cooked, flip them skin side down again and slather each piece with the paste. You can coat them thickly or thinly depending on how much you like miso. Stick the pan under the broiler and watch carefully – it should only take a few minutes for the miso to start bubbling. Pull them out of the oven when the coating caramelizes so that you have some dark brown spots all over the top (see photo).

Sprinkle with chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

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