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Pan-Fried Miso Eggplant
If you're not on #teameggplant, then I dare say you've never had it cooked properly. Eggplant needs to be browned and caramelized to bring out its sweetness and nuttiness. It's wonderful when prepared thin and crispy and when cooked until the edges are browned with a soft center that soaks up the flavor of whatever sauce you've made for it. This recipe is inspired by the traditional Japanese dish nasu dengaku which consists of grilled, tender eggplant with a sweet and savory miso glaze. The deep, rich saltiness of red miso is the perfect match for the mild sweetness of eggplant. Instead of grilling the eggplant, it can be pan fried in a skillet until it's perfectly browned and soft through the center. I've added a bit of garlic, ginger and hot chile pepper to the sauce for added flavor. Instead of rice wine, I'm using NAKANO Toasted Sesame Rice Vinegar which has a sweet and mellow flavor that is perfect in this sauce.
Cooking with NAKANO Flavors
NAKANO Rice Vinegar is a staple in our kitchen. We use their traditionally brewed rice vinegar and flavored rice vinegars in everything from marinades, sauces and dressings to adding just a splash in our favorite recipes as that special, secret ingredient that makes a dish pop with flavor.
NAKANO has been crafting rice vinegar since 1804. For the past eight generations, they have been perfecting a classic, clean taste that’s perfect for creating flavorful, accessible, better-for-you recipes at home.
How to Make Miso Eggplant
Step 1: Pan sear the eggplant
Start by cutting the eggplant in half, from top to bottom. Score the cut sides in a cross-hatch pattern with the knife. The scoring will help cook the eggplant faster and allow the sauce to be absorbed better. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or pan over medium heat and place eggplant cut side down into the dry, hot pan. Add the olive to the pan around the eggplant. Use caution, as the oil may splatter. Optionally, cover the pan with a splatter screen.
Leave the eggplant undisturbed to cook over low-medium heat until it is soft and browned on the cut side. Flip the eggplant and cook the other side until the eggplant is cooked through, caramelized on the outside and soft in the center. It should take roughly 10 minutes total to cook the eggplant.
Step 2: Make the Sauce
First prep your ingredients. Mince 1 clove of garlic and grate a small nub of fresh ginger. You do not need to peel the ginger. You want about 1 packed teaspoon of each. Chop a fresh chile pepper of your choosing into small pieces. Add as much or as little as you prefer to taste. To make the sauce, simply stir together the miso, NAKANO Toasted Sesame Rice Vinegar, tamari, coconut sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger and chopped chile pepper.
Step 3: Cook the Sauce:
Add the sauce to the pan and let it cook for about 1-2 minutes until thick and bubbly. Turn the eggplant to coat it in the sauce. Transfer the eggplant to a plate and garnish with sesame seeds and scallion.
Miso Eggplant Questions:
What type of miso should I use?
Any type of red miso or medium-flavored miso will work well in this recipe. I used Japanese brown-rice miso made from fermented soybeans and brown rice.
What can I substitute for coconut sugar?
Dark brown sugar or maple sugar are good substitutes for coconut sugar in this recipe.
What is the best type of skillet to use?
A cast iron, enameled cast iron or carbon-steel pan works best for quick searing vegetables (and meats) because they conduct heat evenly and retain heat well.
For more easy ways to cook vegetables check out these recipes:
- Garlic and Chile Edamame
- Vegan Thai Noodle Bowls
- Rainbow Summer Rolls with Tahini Dipping Sauce
- Baked Vegan Ricotta and Kale Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Thyme Pangritata
Love this recipe?
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Look for all seven flavors of NAKANO Rice Vinegar nationwide at Walmart, Albertsons Safeway, Shop Rite, Hy-Vee, Food Lion and Hannaford and add a flavor boost to your favorite dishes. You can also follow NAKANO on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.