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Japanese cooking and flavour profiles expertly harness the fifth important element of taste – umami.
Umami is that intense savoury yumminess – think dashi (kombu seaweed broth), marmite, miso, parmesan, kimchi, soy sauce, mushrooms – that adds an element of wonder to any meal.
Nasu Dengaku, the Japanese name for this dish, is a classic Japanese meal usually served as a side; eggplant scored and brushed with a sweet and savory miso glaze. The name translates to eggplant grilled over a fire, which is exactly how it’s done in Japan. Get out your barbeque or your Hibachi if you dare, rather than using an oven.
Serves 4; 6 as entree
⅔ cup apple cider vinegar Juice of ½ a lemon 1 tsp cracked black pepper 1 ½ tsp flaky sea salt 3 tsp coconut sugar 1 large carrot, julienned 3 radishes, finely sliced
1 cauliflower head 3 Tbsp olive oil 2 tsp sesame oil Salt and pepper
4 eggplants 2–3 tsp flaky sea salt 3 Tbsp mirin 3 Tbsp sake (or substitute sherry) 2 Tbsp brown sugar 3 Tbsp white miso paste 1 cm finely grated ginger 1 Tbsp sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds Finely sliced chives Pea shoots or your choice of micro greens
Smoke and fire sauce (optional)
(Mix following ingredients together to form a sauce) 3 tsp Fix & Fogg Smoke and Fire peanut butter 3 tsp soy sauce 2 tsp white miso paste 2 Tbsp hot water
Make pickle: Heat vinegar, lemon, salt, pepper, and sugar in a pot. When it reaches a boil, turn heat off and add carrots and radish. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat oven to 200℃.
Slice eggplant lengthwise in three sections. Slice diamond pattern across one side of the eggplant flesh.
Lay eggplant on a lined baking tray (patterned side up) and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Rest for 30 mins.
After 30 mins pat the flesh of the eggplant dry removing any moisture and residual salt.
Combine mirin, sake, sugar, miso paste, ginger, and sesame oil in a small pan.
Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Prep cauliflower rice by blitzing in batches in a food processor to a rice-like consistency. Lay on a large lined baking dish and drizzle with olive and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Generously brush the miso glaze onto the patterned side of eggplant.
Place both cauliflower rice and eggplant trays in the preheated oven and cook for 40 minutes, mixing cauliflower rice every 10 mins.
After 30 mins remove cauliflower rice and set aside.
Brush extra miso glaze on the eggplants. Turn up heat on eggplant for 3–5 mins to ensure they are golden and caramelised.
Remove from oven and serve eggplants on cauliflower rice, with pickled vegetables.
Scatter sesame seeds, chives, and pea shoots on top of eggplant.
We served ours with a fiery smoke and fire peanut sauce.