Forkful's easy suppers: Sweet miso glazed aubergine
Aubergines can be a troublesome vegetable. If undercooked, they can be unpleasantly dry and squidgy. There's a simple knack to cooking them, however; the secret is oil, and lots of it. When you get aubergines right, they are a marvel of smokiness that can make a vegetarian meal taste like a meaty mid-week supper. This week's recipe pairs the umami punch of miso paste with perfectly roasted aubergines for an insanely tasty supper. It calls for red miso paste, a more pungent paste than the more gentle white and yellow miso pastes.
One of my current favourite cookbooks is Lucky Peach's 101 Easy Asian Recipes. Lucky Peach is a quarterly magazine founded by David Chang, the American chef behind the Momofuku restaurant group in New York City. The magazine looks at food culture and trends around the world, with a special eye for highlighting the artisans and mavericks. Find out more about the magazine, the people behind it and the cookbooks they have released at luckypeach.com.
This week's recipe is adapted from one I discovered in their 101 Easy Asian Recipes cookbook. I've adjusted the measurements to suit my palate. I've used the flavours of hoisin sauce to help sweeten the deal, plus I've added some spicy sriracha sauce for extra heat.
Served with a bowl of simple boiled rice (see my foolproof recipe below), the aubergines have enough strength in flavour to be the main act.
Sweet miso glazed aubergine
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
100ml of vegetable oil
2 regular sized aubergines
4 tablespoons of red miso paste
1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons of mirin
175g white rice (I use basmati)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 spring onion
Sriracha sauce, to serve
1. Heat the oven to 220c/200c/gas mark 7. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Slice the aubergines from top to bottom into slices about 2cm thick, you should get three to four slices from one aubergine. Cut these slices in half, so that you end up with between 12 and 16 slices. Lay them out evenly on your baking tray.
3. Use a pastry brush to brush each slice very generously with vegetable oil. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile mix together the miso paste, hoisin sauce and mirin until you have a thick paste. Once the aubergines have had their 15 minutes, remove from the oven and use a pastry brush or a spoon to coat each aubergine slice evenly with the paste. Place back in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the rice by placing the rice, butter and sugar in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and 250ml of water. Bring to the boil and give everything a good mix before covering and simmering for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, keep covered and leave to steam for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, fluff up with a fork and then leave covered in the warm saucepan until ready to serve.
6. When the aubergines have had their second 15 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds. Return to the oven and give them another blast for 5 minutes.
7. Finely chop the spring onion. Remove the aubergines from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle some sriracha sauce over the top. Scatter the spring onions over the whole lot and serve with the rice on the side.
This week's storecupboard essential:
Miso Paste: Miso is the Japanese word for fermented soybean paste, which is a staple of Japanese cooking. I found this red miso paste in the fantastic Asia Market on Drury Street, Dublin 2. You can often find miso paste in the sushi section at large, well-stocked supermarkets. Otherwise, head to your nearest health store.
Photo: Mark Duggan