Have you ever noticed that some food just looks better before you cook it? The cooking process can make some vegetables and fruits look less vibrant. Of course, they are less vibrant, they’ve been steamed, roasted, boiled or cooked. Thank the powers that be, we have more then just sight to go on here. Even if a vegetable looks bland after cooking, we have smell and taste to tell us something different.
These little eggplants are one of those things that are breathtaking when raw, but a little bland looking when cooked. We have the bronzed miso side of them to make them appealing. The taste of them will prove to be interesting; salty and meltingly tender. I couldn’t stop eating them when they came out of the oven.
This recipe is simple if you have a couple of irregular things on hand. I didn’t have sake or mirin, and I improvised for both with excellent results.
Here’s how to make a “mock sake.” You just need a little dry vermouth and sugar. Mix them together in a small dish.
Then you roast the little babies with sesame oil, cut side down. After they roast, turn them over and let them cool while you make the glaze. The glaze comes together quickly.
These get broiled. They smell amazing! Watch them, they go fast under the broiler.
*I saved the extra 3 tablespoons I had and used it to glaze grilled bok choi. A super tasty and quick side dish!
Adapted slightly from New York Times
- 6 or 7 small eggplants (about 3/4 pound)
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil, plus additional for the baking sheet
- 1 tablespoon white wine or mirin if you have it
- 1 tablespoon “mock sake” or regular sake if you have it (recipe follows)
- 2 tablespoons white or yellow miso
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and cut off the stem and calyx. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut an incision down the middle of each half, making sure not to cut through the skin, but cutting down to it. Salt the eggplant lightly and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with sesame oil.
- Blot the eggplants with paper towels to remove the moisture on the surface and place, cut side down, on the baking sheets.
- Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is beginning to shrivel and the flesh is soft. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the eggplants over, and preheat the broiler.
- To make the glaze, combine the mirin and sake (or wine and mock sake) in the smallest saucepan you have and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 20 seconds, taking care not to boil off much of the liquid, then turn the heat to low and stir in the miso and the sugar. Whisk over medium-low heat without letting the mixture boil, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sesame oil.
- Brush the eggplants with the miso glaze, using up all of the glaze. Place under the broiler, about 2 inches from the heat, and broil for about 1 minute, until the glaze begins to bubble and looks shiny. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool if desired or serve hot. To serve, cut the eggplant halves on the diagonal into 1- to 1-1/2-inch slices.
- To make the “mock sake”:
- Mix 1/4 cup dry vermouth with scant tablespoon sugar. Use just 1 tablespoon for this recipe and save the rest for another day you need sake.