Grilled Japanese Eggplants with Orange Zest and Sake Glaze


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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By Todd Porter

Published 2013

  • About

Japanese eggplants are easily one of our favorite varieties for grilling. Their slender size, delicate seeds, and thin skins are perfect for quick summertime barbecuing. They also tend to be less bitter than their larger cousins, like Black Beauty eggplants, so there is no need to salt them before cooking (see Note). The sugars in the glaze will burn quickly, so for this recipe, cook both sides of the eggplants most of the way through, glaze the eggplants, then cook the glazed sides for just a minute to caramelize the glaze.


  • 4 medium Japanese eggplants (about 1 pound / 455g), halved lengthwise
  • Vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (60ml) sake
  • 1 tablespoon miso, preferably white (shiro) miso
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (preferably orange blossom)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large orange (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice



  1. Heat the grill for high-heat direct grilling.
  2. Score the eggplants several times on their cut sides and brush with oil. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the sake, miso, sugar, and honey. Bring to a simmer over medium–high heat to dissolve the miso and sugar and to cook off a bit of the alcohol from the sake. When the glaze reaches a simmer, remove from the heat. Stir in the orange zest and orange juice.
  4. Brush the grill grates with oil to help prevent sticking.
  5. Place the eggplants, cut side down, on the grill. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip the eggplants over. Brush the cut sides with about one-third of the glaze.
  6. Cook, cut side up, for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip again and brush the skin sides of the eggplants with another one-third of the glaze.
  7. Cook for 1 minute. Flip again and lightly brush the cut sides one more time with the remaining glaze. Cook, cut side up, for 1 minute to finish caramelizing the glaze on the skin sides of the eggplants.
  8. Remove from the heat and serve.