In recent months this quick dish has become a real favourite of mine. I've really fallen for its balance of flavours; it has sweetness and saltiness from the miso and mirin, freshness from the herbs, and a little heat from the ginger, black pepper, and chilli. With a nice sharp side of pickled cucumber or ginger, this simple dish really sings.
There are relatively few ingredients here, so I've found it really makes a difference to use good-quality mirin and miso paste. Some brands are better than others for delivering depth of flavour; personally I prefer Clearspring's Japanese Rice Mirin and Brown Rice Miso.
Sometimes I mince up some extra red chilli and add this in along with the ginger- this is the route you should go if you really want to blow the cobwebs away.
Sticky Ginger and Miso Aubergine
Preparation time: 40 minutes
1 medium aubergine
2 tbsp garlic oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
A thumb of ginger (roughly 1 inch square), peeled and minced
1 tsp brown miso paste
1 tsp palm sugar
45ml rice mirin
50ml hot water
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or more, to taste)
A handful each of fresh mint, coriander, and basil, chopped
Half a fresh red chilli
2 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds
1./ Slice the aubergine into fingers, each one roughly an inch thick; toss in a teaspoon of the garlic oil. Place a grill pan over high heat and grill the pieces till nicely charred (if you don't have a grill pan you can do this on a barbecue or even a normal pan- it's just to add a little smoky flavour).
2./ Heat the remaining garlic and sesame oils in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add in the minced ginger and fry for 3-4 minutes, till fragrant. Add in the miso paste, mirin, tamari, black pepper, and palm sugar; stir well and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the charred aubergine along with the hot water. Stir again and leave for about 5-6 minutes, or till the sauce is reduced and the aubergine is softened.
3./ Remove from the heat and stir through all but a sprinkling of the chopped herbs. Serve hot with rice and pickled cucumber or pickled ginger. Top with the remaining herbs, sliced chilli, and sesame seeds.
Until next time...