I hadn’t thought of these soft and salty miso aubergines for quite some time before I was inspired to make them again when my dear friend Lisa asked me for a recipe. They can be eaten on their own, but, in my opinion, work best as part of a rice bowl: the plain, sticky rice is the ideal canvas for their strong, umami taste. If you don’t want to eat the amount of rice shown here, I suggest using a smaller amount of the miso mixture (freeze the rest for later!), since it might be a bit too salty otherwise. While this recipe calls for a couple of minutes under a hot grill, to allow that miso to slightly caramelise, you could also choose to forgo this step, which will give you a fresher taste and the added gut-health benefits of uncooked miso.
In an ideal world, I would have used my own homegrown aubergines, but they sadly refused to grow (for the second year in a row). Luckily, this will be just as good with aubergines from the market or shop. Adding stir-fried beet greens to the rice gives it a lovely soft pink colour and a more interesting taste and texture. You can do this if you grow your own beetroot or if you managed to buy fresh beetroot with the leaves still attached. If not, you can easily sub any green you like, such as rainbow chard, fresh spinach or even pak choy.
Ingredients (for 2):
for the aubergines
4 tbsp miso (I used 2 tbsp white and 2 tbsp brown/red miso)
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 cm fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp sugar (optional, I prefer it without, since the mirin is already quite sweet)
for the rice:
250 g sushi rice
350 ml cold water
a bunch of beet greens
extra toppings (optional)
thinly sliced green onion
Japanese chili powder (nanami/shichimi togarashi)
- Wash the rice in a sieve under a running tap until the water runs clear.
- Add the rice to a small lidded saucepan and cover with 350 ml cold water.
- Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and turn to the lowest possible heat.
- Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave covered for another 15 minutes.
- Wash, and chop the beet greens, stir fry with a bit of sunflower and sesame oil until the greens are wilted and then fluff up the rice with a fork or rice paddle and stir it through the greens in the pan.
The miso aubergines
- Cut the aubergines in equal pieces. Salt lightly, wait for a while and wipe off the moisture. Cut the surface crosswise and heat a layer of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the aubergine pieces on both sides until golden brown and nice and tender, but not falling apart yet. If you’re not planning on grilling the miso, you can fry them for a bit longer to ensure they’re soft enough. For a slightly lighter effect, you could also bake the aubergine pieces in the oven, brushed with a little oil, but it will take a bit longer, around 15-30 minutes at 200 Celsius depending on the size of the aubergine pieces, and the effect will be a bit more leathery.
- Make the miso mixture by combining the ingredients and stirring until smooth.
- Put the aubergine pieces in a baking tray, and spread the miso mixture on top.
- Leave as is, or heat the grill in your oven to maximum
- Put the baking tray under the grill for 5-7 minutes, or until the miso is bubbly and slightly darker. Stay on watch, because it can burn quite quickly.
- Assemble your rice bowl: add the rice first, then top off with the aubergine pieces (and the egg if using). Make it look all nice, sprinkle on the chilli powder, green onion and sesame seeds and then cut up the aubergine with your chopsticks and stir everything together. Itadakimasu!