Nasu Dengaku (茄子田楽) (Miso Glazed Eggplant)
Nasu dengaku (茄子田楽) is a traditional izakaya bar food (think small plates and beer- kind of like Japanese tapas). It makes a great appetizer with beer, and can be turned into a main dish if served alongside a bowl of hot steamed rice. Traditionally, it is skewered and grilled over a little charcoal grill to impart a deep smokey flavor, but it can also be made under the broiler in most conventional ovens (a big plus if you don’t have time to fire up the grill, or if you’re a grill-less apartment dweller). This recipe is a knock-off of Momofuku’s nasu dengaku, adapted for home cooks. If you don’t have sake, you can substitute dry sherry in its place. If using larger/thicker eggplants, you may need to adjust your cooking time to ensure the eggplants are tender enough, and double the dengaku glaze (I halved three baby globe eggplants, and doubled the sauce just to be sure that there would be enough for all six halves).
- 1 tablespoons mirin
- 1 tablespoons sake
- 2 tablespoons shiro miso
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise*
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- sliced green onions, for garnish
1. Place the mirin and sake in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 2 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to cook off. Then add the miso and stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar, reduce the heat to very low, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while you broil the eggplants:
2. Brush the cut sides of the eggplants with the sesame oil. Put the eggplants cut-side down on a baking sheet and place under the broiler of your oven for about 3 minutes, checking often to make sure that they do not burn. Turn them over, and cook for another 3 minutes or until the tops are a light to medium brown. Do not burn! (If your eggplant still isn’t tender all the way through, turn the broil function to bake at 375˚ for a few more minutes; then proceed with the recipe.)
3. When the eggplants are tender, top each one with the miso sauce and put them back under the broiler until the sauce bubbles up–this should take less than a minute, so watch them closely. Enjoy hot, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
*Note: I used regular baby eggplants because that’s all my grocery store had in stock, but Japanese eggplants work better with this dish because they roast faster due to their thinness. Also, if you score the eggplants, they’ll cook faster and the sauce will flavour even more of the eggplant.k
last updated August 17, 2023