Miso and mirin combine for the ultimate umami marriage that's unmistakably Japanese
This is a family favourite. If you've ever been to a good Japanese restaurant, you'll know why. There's nothing quite like a perfectly soft aubergine bubbling with sweet miso - and you won't believe how easy it is to make. It's also a great excuse to head to your local Asian market and stock up!
Serves 4. Gluten-free, dairy-free & vegan
1 tbsp sesame oil
80ml miso paste
2 tbsp coconut sugar
3 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 spring onions
Method Turn the grill to 220°C. Chop the aubergines in half lengthways and score the flesh. Brush them all over with a little bit of sesame oil and then place them on a roasting tray, with the skin side up. Pop them under the grill for about 9 minutes. Flip the aubergines over and place them back under the grill for another 9 minutes.
While they're cooking, add the miso, coconut sugar and mirin to a small saucepan on medium heat and whisk until smooth.
By now the aubergines should be nicely tender and cooked through - if not, keep them under the grill for another minute.
Brush the miso mixture evenly over the scored flesh and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Place them back under the grill for about 3 minutes, until the miso starts to bubble. Keep an eye on them as the miso will start to burn very quickly.
Serve hot with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions.
Now that you’ve opened your miso paste, what to do with the rest? It’s such a versatile ingredient — whisk it with some rice vinegar and sesame oil for a quick salad dressing; mix it with a little honey as a gorgeous glaze for roast vegetables, or stir up some miso soup with this super-simple recipe: Simmer about 1 litre stock (preferably Japanese dashi) with some dried nori (seaweed) for around 5 minutes. Whisk about 3 tbsp miso paste with a splash of hot water until smooth, then pour it into the stock. Add in some chopped spring onion and tofu and let it simmer for a few more minutes before serving.
I absolutely love the salty sweetness of miso — it has that umami flavour that you can’t quite put your finger on but seems to make everything taste good. Miso paste is made from a mixture of soy beans, rice or barley that has been fermented with salt, water and a fungus. There are a few different varieties — white miso is made from mostly rice and is much sweeter, great for sauces and dressings; yellow is usually made with soybeans and barley, and is perfect for soups and glazes; red has been fermented for longer and has a much stronger flavour, and black has the strongest flavour of them all. I tend to stick with white and yellow but you can use whichever one you like best. You can get miso paste in any Asian market and some supermarkets.
Dahl has got to be one of the most comforting dishes ever. Lentils are full of protein and fibre, and red ones are particularly great because they cook quickly, bursting and softening for that deliciously creamy dahl texture. I add flaked almonds to my tarka topping (see opposite page) for a bit of crunch and nuttiness - it's the best combination with the coconut and turmeric dahl.