When I was studying in the Midwest, I used to crave the foods I had no hope of finding anywhere nearby: jiao zi, luo bo gao, dolsot bibimbap, kimchi, pho, banh xeo, bun rieu, Vietnamese cha gio…the list went on and on. The homesickness for the diversity of Asian cuisine drove me to the kitchen, where I tried to recreate the tastes from memory and by researching the internet or cookbooks. Some people received care packages with sweets and treats; my mother shipped me Asian ingredients and sent me back to school with suitcases stuffed with gai lan, which was not readily available where I was living.
I still love buying and preparing Asian vegetables, which shine in the simplest of preparations. Living in a part of the country with amazing produce also helps. Inspiration is always around the corner at the next farmer’s market!
I made this simple miso-glazed broiled eggplant the other night for a light dinner, and couldn’t wait until the next day to have the leftovers for lunch. Enjoy!
- 1 tbl mirin
- 1 tbl sake
- 2 tbl shiro miso
- 2 tbl sugar
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
- green onions sliced on the bias (garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Place the mirin, sake, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add miso and ginger and stir until smooth. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the eggplants.
- Score the cut sides of the eggplant with diagonal cuts. Brush the cut sides of the eggplants with sesame oil. Put the eggplants cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until they just start to shrivel. The flesh should be fork tender. Remove from the oven and carefully turn them over.
- Brush the top of the eggplants with a good layer of the miso sauce (use up all the sauce!) and put them under the broiler until the sauce bubbles up and starts to caramelize, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions, and enjoy!