I will say this unequivocally, this is the best eggplant recipe you’ll come across. And it’s a grill recipe. But, I’m sure you can also prepare it atop the stove Anyway, it’s mighty big statement to make, and I stand by it. I am a lover of eggplant, and when it’s well rendered, I swoon. This recipe makes it unique in that includes miso, the traditional Japanese seasoning that is made by fermenting soybeans, salt, barely or rice. The mixture comes in a paste that is used enhance soups,tofu and vegetables.
Let me add that there are various types of miso. For this recipe I used sweet white miso (shiro miso), which is the most versatile type. But you can also use red miso (aka miso), which is the saltiest, most pungent variety. And here you only need a little bit; and it goes especially well with eggplant.
This is not a Nuyorican recipe. It’s more Asian in style it that, apart from miso, it also calls for sesame oil as one of the ingredients. The one thing that I must note is with regard to the eggplant. Again, I’ve had comments on both sides of the divide regarding this. I’ve heard from diehard cooks on my end, that salting the eggplant prior to cooking, draws out the eggplant’s bitter liquids, and will make it less likely that the eggplant will absorb oil while it fries. I’ve tried both methods and, honesty, I found no difference in taste. But, if you’re still a partisan of the salting thing (and have the time), then salt eggplant slices liberally, place in a colander in the sink and let sit 20-30 minutes. Then rinse, pat dry, and grill.
2 medium or 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
3 tablespoons corn or canola oil (or more as needed)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Ground black pepper to taste
½ cup miso
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
¼ cup hot water
1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high and place the rack about 4 inches from the flame.
2. In a cruet or small bowl (or even a cup), combine the corn and sesame oils, and brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the oil mixture. Sprinkle with pepper and brush with more oil. Grill until brown on both sides, about 6-8 minutes total, turning once or twice and brushing with more oil if it looks dry.
3. When the eggplant is almost done, in a small bowl, whisk together the the miso, honey (or maple syrup), and hot water. Then generously brush the eggplant with this mixture. Continue to grill another minute or two. Serve hot or at room temperature, drizzled with any remaining miso sauce.
Yield: 4 servings.
Note: I served the eggplant with grilled steak; but grilled pork, lamb, or chicken can also be a good side.