Having recently been mugged by a very friendly butch group of skinhead, lesbian, vegans for this recipe [ladies you know who you are] I decided that instead of going through that experience again I’d put it up on the blog.
There are many variations of this recipe, this is by no means the definitive version but a version that works for us and goes particularly well with the smoky flavour of the grilled aubergine.
First choose your aubergines carefully.
Like all aubergine recipes freshness is the key.
You're looking for the torpedo shaped Japanese variety, sadly for UK residents for now you will have to look further than Tesco’s, fortunately they are available from most good Asian food markets. The big black versions or baby aubergines are ok at an absolute push but the Japanese variety holds less moisture, requires less oil and gives the finished dish a more creamier texture, definitely worth hunting out.
Now make the miso topping – ‘den miso’
The type of miso you choose really depends on personal preference, we recommend a lighter shiromiso preferably from western Japan [saikyo miso]. Shiromiso has undergone a much shorter fermentation which produces a lighter, sweeter flavour than a darker miso.
Tokyo-ites and people from eastern Japan [Kanto] usually prefer the red miso aka miso which is more intense and saltier.
190 ml mirin
190 ml sake
50 gms sugar
Simply mix all ingredients in a bowl, whisk until smooth then put over a pan of boiling water [a bain marie type set up] and cook very slowly, stirring whenever you can. The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will slowly thicken to produce a wonderful silken, golden sauce. Allow to cool.
Tradition would have us put an egg yolk or two in at this time to aid glazing, we have found that if it is cooked for long enough there is no need, the high sugar content allows the mix to glaze naturally and gives a cleaner flavour.
You may think that its made a hell of a lot of mix, fear not. it will keep for several weeks in an air tight jar in the fridge and has many uses. This type of miso paste is at the heart of every Japanese kitchen. Use it to marinade oily fish such as mackerel or Salmon, or as the basis of sauces or dressings.
At this point flavours can also be added such as grated ginger, citrus zest, sesame or mustard. Now before we can glaze the aubergine it needs to be cooked.
First split it in half lengthways and score the flesh with a sharp knife.
Like most things at bincho here is where our grills come into play; skewer like the picture opposite, drizzle with with lots of non-scented oil then grill both sides until soft.
For those who don’t have a BBQ you can cook it in the same way under a salamander although the best results for the home cook are to shallow or deep fry in a clean non-scented oil.
You will be alarmed at how much oil they absorb, much of this will be expelled as it cooks but quite frankly [and you can quote me on this] all great aubergine dishes need plenty of oil.
Allow the aubergine to cool slightly and spread the miso on thickly - the back of a spoon works well for this.
Then sprinkle with sesame seeds and put under a hot grill. Keep an eye on it because the difference between glazed and burnt is literally seconds.
And that’s it – so to my vegan friends in Soho this ones for you, now please stop hassling me!