I think before this recipe i’ve cooked with aubergines about 5 times in my life. Since discovering this recipe, i’ve made it 5 times (this was 3 weeks ago). The combination of frying and grilling creates a thin, crisp, sticky outer layer and a most wonderfully soft, almost gooey centre where the aubergine flesh becomes scoopable with a spoon. The salty, sweet miso sinks down and bubbles into the scored flesh, not only flavouring the vegetable, but adding an irresistible glazed stickiness. It’s just great.
This is another of Tim Anderson’s recipes from his latest book Japaneasy and I don’t even care that i’m starting to sound like i’m about to set up a fan club, it’s a wonderful book. I tried messing with the recipe (less oil and the like) but it didn’t have the same effect. The only thing I do differently is I apply heat a little longer than suggested in it’s various forms, but this is because I like my outer layer really crispy, and I like my aubergine flesh to be ridiculously gooey. It’s advised. I would also suggest using a cast iron pan such as my Victoria 12 inch cast iron skillet (that I love and cherish) to make sure the heat is deep and crisp and even.
Timings: 30 mins
Quantities: 2 people as a main, 4 people as a side
Kitchen stuff: A good, large, heavy based pan
- 2 small/medium aubergines (to fit in one pan)
- Oil for frying (quite a lot)
- Toasted sesame seeds (I like to use a mix of black and white)
- 100g white miso paste
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- SCORE: Slice your aubergines in half lengthways, and score the flesh about 1/2cm deep in a diamond pattern. This helps them absorb the oil and get lovely and gooey on the inside.
- FRY: Heat your frying pan and pour in your oil to a depth of about 1cm. Add your aubergines, flesh side down first, and fry for 5/6 minutes on each side. It’s worth checking the underside of your aubergines to make sure the browning is even, and moving them around the pan half way through if it’s not. You want the flesh to be lovely and browned, and the skin to be glossy and fragile.
- MISO: Whilst your aubergines are frying, make your sweet miso sauce. Mix together your miso paste, mirin, sugar, water and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved. This will last for absolutely ages in the fridge so pop it in a jar if you have left overs.
- GRILL: Preheat your grill until very hot, and line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay your aubergine halves on the baking paper, flesh side up, and glaze with a liberal amount of miso paste. Put them under the grill for 8 – 10 minutes (or longer if necessary) until the glaze is brown, sticky and bubbling. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
- TIP: I like to serve mine with Japanese rice and pickles.