Eggplant with Pungent Bean Sauce

Nasu no Miso an Kaké

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

Although eggplants are available throughout the year in most parts of the United States, they’re particularly good toward the end of the summer, when the hot sun seems to ripen them most gently. The pungent bean sauce in this recipe makes a nice contrast to the subtle sweetness of the flesh.

Versions of this classic dish appear on most Japanese restaurant menus in America, where they’re often listed as nasu no shigi yaki. Nasu is eggplant, but shigi is the name of a long-beaked bird native to Japan. The elongated shape of Japanese eggplants reminds the Japanese of the bird. This name should only be used when slender eggplants are sliced in half, lengthwise. Here I make use of the bulbous American eggplant, cut into thick rounds.

Ingredients

  • 6 round unpeeled eggplant slices, about inches in diameter and 1 inch thick
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 3 tablespoons aka miso (dark fermented bean paste)
  • tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon rind, for garnish

Method

Shallowly score the flesh of the eggplant on both sides of each slice in a crosshatch pattern. This will help to cook the eggplant quickly and make eating it easier later.

Preheat the broiler at its highest setting.

You’ll need oil at a depth of at least inches to fry the eggplant properly. Heat the oil to approximately 375 degrees (test with a sliver of skin or trimmed end piece; ideally the eggplant should drop ever so slightly below the surface of the oil and rise immediately to sizzle). Fry the slices in the oil, turning only once, until tender (about 2–2½ minutes in all). Don’t crowd the pan. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon to paper toweling to drain.

In a 1-quart saucepan, stir together the bean paste, sugar, and rice wine. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly; it should be glossy, thick, and bubbling.

Spread a rounded tablespoon of the mixture over one side of each eggplant slice. Place the slices about 3–4 inches from the heat and broil until the sauce just begins to bubble, about 10–15 seconds. Garnish with the grated lemon peel and serve immediately.