We love miso aubergine or nasu dengaku as it is known in Japan. This recipe is the perfect one for this side dish that we always order in a restaurant whenever we go out to a Japanese one. Now you can make it at home and it is really simple to prepare. This authentic miso aubergine or miso eggplant recipe is exactly what you are looking for.
Making the veggies more exciting it’s an exciting thing in itself, right, but I find aubergines to be one of those mysterious veggies, really versatile and fun to cook.
What is miso aubergine or Nasu Dengaku?
Miso aubergine or nasu dengaku is a classic Japanese side dish made with halved and scored aubergines which are then brushed with a sweet and savoury miso glaze.
Nasu Dengaku translates as eggplant grilled over a fire which is exactly how this side disk is made in Japan.
I do that whenever possible but most of the time I pan fry the eggplant halves for a few minutes and finish them in the oven under the grill or a broiler until the miso glaze caramelizes. Yum!
The savoury, smoky and sweet flavour makes this dish a special and very delicious vegan dish.
I do recall my first miso aubergine eating experience. It was in a local Japanese restaurant over a decade ago. I did love it instantaneously. After that love at first taste I really wanted to make them at home (a little healthier hence less sugar added). I have since prepared this delicious side dish at home many times.
Since I’ve tried preparing it at home to the best of my abilities (my favourite ‘activity’ - eat a dish prepared by someone else or in a restaurant and try replicating it myself- love it!) it removes the desire of eating it in a restaurant. We occasionally still do that, of course.
It is a divinely delicious aubergine/eggplant dish, a real treat for anyone’s tastebuds.
Restaurant quality homemade miso aubergine
I do enjoy a lot preparing my food myself, in the comfort of my own kitchen but most importantly knowing exactly what goes in feels a lot more comforting too. I am weird, I know!! ;-))
My recipe's as close as you can get to the authentic version, but as I said, it's a result of what I've tried to replicate since I've tasted miso aubergines for the first time. The recipe suffered many implementations since the first attempt and this is definitely the best of all versions.
This is the mastered version that I’m now always preparing and very happy to share the secrets with you. The only difference could be the miso paste as I don't always buy the same one. Some miso paste is better than some others, depending on the brands.
What is miso paste?
Miso paste comes in a few varieties, but in this recipe, I have used Genmai one which is an organic savoury paste produced by using traditional fermenting methods, made from organic soya beans, brown rice and sea salt. It is a salty paste, so adding salt to this recipe is not needed.
Miso paste is a fabulous source of nutrients and minerals (manganese, zinc, copper), with very high amounts of antioxidants, full of healthy benefits all around.
My kids (bless their hearts ♥️❤️ - very sweet of them) mentioned that my Miso aubergines version is better than the one they have in the restaurant, because "the restaurant one is way too sweet".
I will have to trust their judgement - they are my best critics and fairest judges. I will definitely go with them, 100%. They know the stuff and have a real sense of what good food is.
Ingredients needed :
- Aubergine or eggplant : I always chose medium to small sized aubergines since taste better and are a lot easier to cook.
- Oil: Any neutral flavored cooking oil will work well in this miso aubergine recipe.
- Miso Paste: I like to use a mixture of red and white miso paste. It is deeply savory and loaded with umami.
- Sugar: A dash of sugar adds a touch of sweetness with no risks of going cloying. And it also helps the sauce caramelize to perfection under the grill.
- Honey: a drizzle of honey.
- Worchester sauce: oh yes don't give this a miss - it adds that je ne sais quoi to this dish.
- Sweet soy sauce: a dash of this is a great addition but do not worry if you do not have it.
- Tamari sauce: if you do nit have this use mirin.
- Sesame Seeds: Sprinkle a few sesame seeds on your aubergine just before serving. Oh, that toasted nuttiness! Really good!
How to make miso aubergine/miso eggplant or nasu dengaku?
- Prepare the aubergines/eggplants - Start by cutting the eggplant in half, lengthwise. Then score the inside flesh of each half with a knife in a pretty criss-cross pattern.
- Cook the eggplant - Place a pan going over over fairly high heat and add some oil enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Place your eggplant halves in the pan with the skin facing down. Cook for a couple of minutes and then flip on the other side. Cook covered for approximately 3.5 minutrs until the white flesh will look brown.
- Make the miso glaze - While the aubergine halves cook, mix the glaze ingredients well until homogenised.
- Apply the glaze - Once the aubergine halves have cooked, take out of the pan – and place them on a parckment lined baking sheet with the flesh facing up. Brush the miso galze on each aubergine half.
- Grill or broil the miso aubergines - Place these under the grill in the oven and grill for about 3 minutes.
- Serve hot - Sprinkle with mixed sesame seeds and serve it pretty much immediately.
Are aubergines good for us?
Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre, a good source of vitamins B1 as well as B6 and potassium. Additionally, it is high in minerals such as copper, magnesium and manganese.
Other aubergine recipes you may like:
- Baked aubergine with cumin and yoghurt sauce
- Cauliflower, aubergine and chickpeas salad
- Tomato and cheese topped aubergines
- Velvety stuffed aubergines (eggplant)
- Creamy Eggplant Dip
Not at all. It will take you just 30 minutes or so and it is really easy to make this dish.
You can serve this miso aubergine dish as a main with plain jasmine or basmati rice. Check out my post on how to make a perfect instant pot rice which can also be cooked on the stove-top, in a rice cooker or even in the oven.
Serve it as a side and easily pair it up with full-flavoured dishes like lamb or this Thai curry.
I have used honey so this recipe isn't vegan but to make it vegan increase the cane or coconut sugar amount to double.
Let’s just get this miso aubergine grilling, shall we?
- oven tray/sheet pan
- glass bowl
- 2 medium aubergines or large
- 4 small groundnut oil * (small drizzles)
For the miso sauce (marinade)
- 1 tablespoon Miso paste *
- 1 tablespoon Indonesian soy sauce (sweet)
- 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce (4 drops)
- 1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce (or any dark soy sauce)
- 2 teaspoon honey (optional) don't use for a vegan version
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Sesame seeds (or mixed) to sprinkle over
- 1-2 small spring onion (optional) to serve
- Wash and slice the aubergine in half lengthwise. Score in the flesh with a knife (see picture 1) cutting dip into in the flesh but making sure the skin does not get pierced. The diagonal cuts should be about 1.5 cm apart or not more than 1 inch (approx 2 cm). Repeat the same on the other side and with all the aubergine halves. Set aside.
- Let's prepare the glaze by taking out a bowl and stirring together all the glaze ingredients. Mix well until everything is nicely homogenised. If the glaze is slightly too dense, add one spoon of water.
- Take out a frying pan and put in a drizzle of oil which can be sesame oil, groundnut oil or even olive oil if you don't have any of the two.
- Place the 4 aubergine halves into the frying pan and fry on each side for 3-4 minutes. Place on a hot pan - if the pan is not hot yet either wait or cook for longer.
- Once this step was done, put all aubergine halves on the baking tray, which you can line with some parchment paper.
- With the help of a brush, brush all the surfaces as well as inside the aubergines cuts so make sure they are all smeared well with the miso sauce glaze. Leave aside for about 5-10 min to marinade.
- Turn on the oven and turn on the grill settings at 190°C /375°F. Place the aubergines under the grill and grill them for approximately 5-7 minutes until the tops are really dark and look well caramelised. Move them slightly down a level if this is happening too soon.
- When all is ready, take out of the oven and scatter over some sesame seeds as well as (optionally) some finely chopped spring onions/scallions.
- Serve immediately alongside nice and fluffy rice. Enjoy!
Did you know...?
Aubergines are male and female 😉 But how to differentiate?
A way to check the sex of aubergines is to look at the bottom of it. I know, right? Haha!
Male aubergines are slenderer eggplants with a smaller, rounder indentation mark at the bottom;
Female aubergines are of course rounder (curvier haha) aubergines with a larger, elongated indentation. I am not making this up, I promise!! Haha.
Male aubergines/eggplants tend to have fewer seeds and they are sweeter too apparently 😉