Early summer brings one of my favourite summer vegetables—nasu, Japanese eggplants! In Japan, they are in season from May to October and can be found in abundance at roadside stands, in grocery stores, and at farmers markets. The Japanese variety is longer and thinner than its western counterparts, with thinner skin and virtually no seeds. My friends abroad have told me that Japanese eggplants are increasingly available in their home countries, so keep an eye out!
This night-shade fruit (yes, fruit!) packs nutrients and fibre and is extremely versatile and easy to cook. The spongy flesh absorbs marinades quickly and can be grilled, baked, or fried and served throughout summer in salads, pastas, or even on its own. Personally, I find that all it needs is a little miso sauce to enhance its delicate flavour.
The recipe below is a favorite in the Ozeki household and a big hit with my friends in Brisbane. Have a look at the video and join me to make this simple summer dish!
Sautéed eggplant topped with sweet miso
- one large eggplant, cut into 2cm thick medallions
- potato starch or corn flour, as needed
- vegetable oil (canola, soybean or sunflower oil) as needed
- chives or negi spring onion, as needed
For white miso sauce (A):
- 50g white miso paste (saikyo miso西京みそ)
- 1-2 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 egg yolk
For red miso sauce (B):
- 50g brown miso paste (hacho miso八丁みそ)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1-2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 egg yolk*
*Adding an egg yolk makes miso sauce creamy and milder.
For miso sauce:
- Mix together all (A) ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Simmer on low heat, stirring constantly until mixture begins to steam.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 with (B) ingredients.
- Peel eggplant skin, if it is tough.
- Cut eggplant into 2cm thick medallions.
- With a fork, poke eggplant medallions several times. This helps the eggplants cook faster.
- Pour a 2cm deep layer of vegetable oil into a large saucepan.
- Bring the oil to 160°C on medium-high heat.
- Coat both sides of the eggplant medallions with a thin layer of potato starch or corn flour.
- Deep-fry the eggplant until golden brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes on each side).
- Remove from the heat and place eggplant on paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Serve with sweet miso sauces topped with chopped chives or negi spring onions.
Next week on the blog we will be re-discovering a Gifu favourite—ayu sweetfish! No summer is complete without a summertime ayu cookout on the Nagara river, here in Seki. Check back next week to watch me cook my favourite local specialty!