This vegan miso glazed aubergine dish also known as Nasu Dengaku in Japan comes with a delicious sweet umami taste that not only eggplant fans but anyone will enjoy!
While (aubergines) eggplants are not everyone's taste, you can find the popular Nasu Dengaku dish on the menu at almost every good Japanese restaurant.
Roasted or fried and then glazed with sweet miso, it pleases everyone's taste buds, vegan or not. There is something about glazing vegetables or even meat with a mixture of miso, mirin and honey, it brings out so much flavour!
We show you in this recipe, how you can make our version of the dish step by step.
what is miso
Miso comes from Japan and consists of soybeans combined with a mold called koji that has been raised from rice, seaweed or barley.
There is a wide variety of miso available depending on the fermentation process and ingredients used, but to keep it simple there is shiro miso (white miso) and aka miso (red miso).
Miso comes in a form of a paste and it's flavour is salty, sweet, earthy, fruity and savoury. Traditionally, Miso is used in soups like miso and ramen.
aubergines/eggplants they should be slightly firm but not hard when you buy them. Select medium size eggplants to ensure same cooking time.
shiro miso is a much milder miso paste compared to red miso paste. It has a rich umami flavour with sweet tones, perfect for Nasu Dengaku.
mirin is a sweet japanese rice wine. It has a high sugar content and works well against the saltiness of the eggplants.
honey adds the right amount of sweetness to the miso glaze. You can substitute with palm sugar or brown sugar instead.
rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. Rice vinegar is less acidic than white vinegar. If you are looking for a substitute, use a milder vinegar like chardonnay vinegar or even sake.
Besides oil and salt we use white radish, red onions, sprouts and sesame seeds for garnish.
preparing the aubergines
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the flesh with the tip of a sharp knife by making long diagonal incisions across the entire surface of the eggplant and repeating the same from the other side to create a diamond pattern.
This helps when salting and cooking the eggplants.
Salting the eggplants before cooking, will draw out excess moisture.
Doing so removes the water and enhances the flavour of the eggplants for a softer, more tender texture and less bitterness. Less water = more flavour.
Sprinkle the cut side of the eggplant with lots of salt and rub it into the flesh.
Then. place the eggplant on a wire rack over a sink or baking tray to catch the moisture that comes out.
Leave them for at least 30 minutes and meanwhile prepare the miso glaze.
making the miso glaze
The miso glaze is a brilliant sauce that can be used for glazing vegetables or for example even marinating meat as it tenderizes it.
Simply combine the miso paste, vinegar, honey and mirin in a small pot.
Bring to a simmer while whisking and set aside. Don't let it cool completely as it will thicken quickly which will make it difficult for glazing.
cooking the eggplants
For this miso glazed aubergine recipe, I cook the eggplants in two steps.
First dab off any excess moisture on the eggplant and then they are pan fried to get a nice roasting colour and flavour. This helps to cook the eggplant half way through as well.
I cook them about 5 minutes on the flesh side and 3 minutes on the skin side.
Next they are glazed with the miso glaze, sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked in a pre-heated oven.
They should take altogether about 20-30 minutes to cook depending on their size.
Use a skewer to check the doneness by inserting it into the eggplant; you should not feel any resistance.
garnishing the aubergines
For the garnish, I shaved the red onion on the mandoline and just seasoned it with salt and strained off the liquid from the onions. This way they loose their sharpness and have a nice texture and a pinkish colour.
Next, I peeled the radish and also shaved it thinly using the mandoline. I added a tablespoon of mirin for taste.
Now, the most common question, whether you serve the dish as an appetizer, main course or even a side dish? The answer is, you can serve it as you please.
If the miso glazed aubergine is the first course of a meal, I would only serve one half eggplant per person but if you are serving it as a main, then serve two and add another element like rice or a salad to make it a complete meal.
To plate up, arrange the radish and onion on top of the eggplant.
Sprinkle with the sprouts and serve warm.
more recipes with miso
Miso has become a popular ingredient in cooking due to its versatility. We always have some at hand as its great for making quick sauces, soups and marinades. Here are some more ways we have used miso:
in a chicken ramen soup with homemade condiments
for this roasted pumpkin dish with nori dukkah
in a miso dressing for this poke style salmon salad
made into a miso butter and baked with scallops
Whether you are a fan of eggplant or not, give this recipe a go! You will love the charred, sweet and salty umami taste, and who knows, this might become one of your favourite go-to vegetarian recipes.
Miso Glazed Aubergines
- small pot
- frying pan
- oven tray
- wire rack
- kitchen tongs
for the aubergines (eggplant)
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 small white radish (lobok), peeled
- 1 small red onion, peeled
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoon sprouts for garnishing
- cooking oil
for the miso glaze
- 2 tablespoon shiro miso paste
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
for the aubergines (eggplant)
- To prepare the aubergines cut them in half lengthwise.
- Score the flesh with the tip of a sharp knife making a diamond pattern ie. long diagonal incisions across the entire surface of the eggplant (without cutting too deep) and repeating the same from the other side.
- Sprinkle the cut side of the eggplant with excess salt and rub onto the flesh.
- Place the eggplant salted flesh down on a wire rack over a sink or baking tray to catch the moisture coming out. Leave them for at least 30 minutes, prepare the glaze in the meantime.
- Combine the miso paste, vinegar, honey and 1 tablespoon mirin in a small pot. Bring to a simmer while whisking and set aside.
- Heat up a pan on high heat and add a tablespoon oil. Place the eggplants with the skin side down in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the flesh has turned golden brown.
- Turn the eggplant around and cook the skin side for another 3 minutes. Once cooked place the eggplants on a wire rack sitting on top of a oven tray.
- Using a brush glaze the eggplants with the miso glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C (355°F) for about 20-30 minutes or until the eggplants are cooked.
- Use a skewer to check the doneness by inserting into the eggplant; you should not feel any resistance.
- For the garnish, shave the red onion on the mandoline and season with salt. Leave for at least 10 minutes and strain off the liquid from the onions.
- Slice the white radish on the mandoline and marinate in the remaining mirin.
- To plate up, arrange the radish and onion on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with the sprouts and serve warm.