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Japanese Home Cooking JULY 2020

You know how those shiny purple eggplants at the market look soooo tempting this time of year, so you can’t resist buying a few, but then you get them home and think, “What the heckin’ heck am I going to do with these?”

Well, I’m here to tell you, THIS. (And Dengaku sauce also delicious on chicken or pork, if eggplant isn’t your thing.)

Miso Grilling Sauce

Nasu Dengaku

Eggplant with Dengaku Sauce (Nasu Dengaku) on Japanese plate

Dengaku Sauce is one of those tasty toppings that makes even people who “don’t like Japanese food” beg for seconds. Everything from eggplant to slices of pork tenderloin to skewers of grilled chicken will disappear in record time if slathered in Dengaku.

(Also, it’s so easy to make, you can’t fail.)

6 Japanese eggplants (or one big European one)

Salt

Oil for searing

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

For Dengaku Sauce:

1/4 c. (120g) white miso, or 2 T. (60g) white miso mixed with 2 T. (60g) red miso*

2 T. (60ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)

2 T. (60ml) sake

2 T. (60g) sugar

Stir all together in a small saucepan until well blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from stove and set aside.

Stirring Dengaku Miso Sauce
It should be about this thick after cooking

To prepare eggplant:

Cutting Japanese eggplant
Trim off the stem end, cut in half lengthwise, then lightly score the cut surface with your knife (about 1/8″ deep). If you’re using a big European-style eggplant, trim the stem end, then slice it crosswise (your slices should be round) about 3/4″ (2 cm) thick. Cut the bigger slices in half, to get half-moon shapes
Salted Japanese eggplant on cutting board
Salt the cuts sides of the eggplant generously and let sit for ten minutes

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe eggplant dry with a paper towel, then put them in the hot pan, cut side down. Cover and let sear on medium heat for 1-3 minutes (check often to make sure they don’t burn). Remove from pan and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Seared Japanese eggplant
They should look like this
Japanese eggplant with miso sauce before broiling
With a table knife, spread miso sauce generously on cut sides of eggplant

Heat oven to 500°F (broiler setting) and broil eggplant close to heat for 2-4 minutes, until sauce bubbles and caramelizes. Check every minute, because it burns easily. Move eggplant to serving plate and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Can be served hot or at room temperature.

*White miso is sweet and red miso is salty. I make my Dengaku Sauce with all white miso, but if you mix it half and half with red miso, you’ll get a more savory sauce.

Two bowls of Dengaku miso sauce made with mixed red and white miso and white miso only
Here’s what the sauce looks like made with half-red-half-white miso (on the left) and all white miso (on the right) All photos in the rest of the recipe are made with white miso only

Eggplant with Miso Sauce is absolutely delish paired with Tasty Simmered Ginger Pork or Yakitori Chicken Mini-Burgers.

If you love a good read, you might enjoy The Last Tea Bowl Thief too

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

For three hundred years, a missing masterpiece passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, indelibly altering the lives of all who possess itread more

Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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