Eggplant Aubergine 茄子 μελιτζάνα

Autumn is my favourite produce season so I took extra effort to visit the various farmer’s markets as often as possible especially with the knowledge that winter is coming (yes that is a nod to the Starks). I was particularly drawn to the large variety of eggplants or aubergines available.
Eggplant Aubergine 茄子 μελιτζάνα
Most common are the black bell (hiding in the back left) which are of Italian origin and found year round in the supermarkets. Down at Chinese grocers you will see the elongated Asian eggplant which also have the dark purple skin (peaking out at the front). Some of the more exotic eggplants are the Fairytale eggplant (love the name) which are smaller and has a white and purple striped skin (small one in the middle). I also got my hands on the white (right), Sicilian (large stripped in the back) and Rosa Blanca heirloom eggplants (pale purple on the left).
Eggplants ready for broilling
My favorite way if eating eggplant is dengaku style. This is grilled, fried or broiled with a layer of miso sauce on top. I only had white miso (lighter soy bean coloured) but this dish also works with dark colored miso. I only used the skinnier eggplants for this (Fairytale, White and Asian).

Preparation of dengaku miso (recipe adapted from Japanese Cooking A simple Art – Shizuo Tsuji)
1. In a small saucepan mix the following till smooth

2. Heat the sauce in a double boiler on slow simmer and gradually add 7 tbsp dashi. [Dashi is a bonito (fish flake) and konbu (seaweed) stock]
3. Slowly cook till the sauce thickens
4. Cool and can be stored at 4oC for up to two months

Preparation of the eggplant
1. Wash and chop the calyx off.
2. Cut in half long ways and quickly make cross score the surface.
3. Brush both the skin and the cut surface with mild flavoured olive oil or canola oil. This prevents drying of the skin and oxidization of the flesh (browning).
4. Place the eggplants skin side down in a baking tray under the broiler for 5 min or until it starts to wrinkle on the side and/or browning.
5. Add a thin layer of dengaku miso onto the surface and broil for a further 2 min (this might depend on your oven heat but watch it as the miso will burn
6. Plate and garnish with some sesame

Eggplant dengaku

The Although the Asian or Japanese eggplant is traditionally used for this dish, the Fairytale eggplants actually tasted the best in my opinion. The flesh is very sweet and much creamier than the others which blends well with the miso. The white eggplant I had was a little bitter compared to the rest. The dengaku miso can also be used on broiled swordfish steak, tofu and scallops.

For the fatter eggplants some recipe ideas include using them in a ratatouille, pasta sauce or a lamb moussaka.

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