Happy (latter half) of January, everybody! I am back this week with a new recipe to satisfy any cravings you have–let’s try…something sweet and salty, but slightly bitter, as well as abundant with deliciously umami aromas and satisfying textures!
The photos are absolutely horrific in quality, but let me tell you, when I say I ate nearly the entire batch of this eggplant in one sitting, I mean it. It was THAT heavenly. During my internship, my lovely team members gifted me a Japanese cookbook for my birthday! It was such an unexpected surprise and I knew that as soon as I returned home, I would use this cookbook like no tomorrow. I am a SUCKER for Japanese cuisine, so this was absolutely amazing!
We wanted to start off January right with health commitments for each of us: for example, my sisters would spend 20-30 minutes every day following dance workouts, we’d try to cook our own meals at home more often, and I, personally, need to check on my nut butter obsession. Yeah, I would easily consume 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of crunchy almond butter or peanut butter without knowing it. Also, I figured that I’d try to eat more mindfully since I was ALWAYS eating my meals on a time crunch during my work week–so much so that I started doing the same subconsciously on the weekends.
But of course, I have no interest in avoiding nut butter forever–I mean, I already had two vegan peanut butter cups and vegan peanut butter ice cream. I plan on gradually integrating nut butter back by using packets at first, then buying a simple jar of peanut butter that I’d use half of for cooking like peanut sauce or my healthy peanut butter cookies, and then the rest for leisure. One of the most helpful ways to subside my nut butter cravings involved eating a substantial amount of vegetables glazed in something comforting. This sweet miso roasted eggplant did just that!
You’re probably thinking: are you kidding me, Cassie?! You have a cookbook with over 80 recipes–so many possibilities to choose from. WHY did you select a sauce out of all options? Well, here’s my justification. When it comes to cookbooks, I like to judge how tasty the collection of recipes are by the condiments they provide. Start off as simple as possible. I don’t want to risk wasting money and ingredients on a beautiful but complicated recipe where I could easily mess up. There are instructions for vegan sushi, vegan bento boxes, and chestnut jelly that I would LOVE to try out, but quite frankly, my family would be lowkey pissed if I messed up the kitchen. (Seriously. My mom treats the kitchen like a temple and I’ve been verbally beaten when I’d accidentally leave dishes in the sink!)
Anyhow, here’s our adaptation on the sweet miso sauce from Vegan JapanEasy: Over 80 Delicious Plant-Based Japanese Recipes paired with one of our favorite Japanese vegetables: the Japanese eggplant! It’s extremely versatile, nutrient-dense, and somewhat underrated. This wasn’t something I wanted to do initially, but my mother wanted to peel the eggplants because the rest of the family doesn’t like the skins (quick tangent: they don’t like sweet potato skins either! I swear, my sister will bake or boil sweet potatoes and hand me all the sweet potato skins while she eats the flesh as is or in mash form with some vegan butter. I eat the skins heartily!). You are more than welcome to slice the eggplants in half and keep the skins in tact, but you can also peel the skins and slice them, keep the skins and chop them; it’s totally up to you!
- 4 large Japanese eggplants, approximately 1.5 lbs
- 2 TBSP sesame oil or any neutral tasting oil
- Salt to taste
- Minimal pepper to taste
- 3-4 garlic cloves (optional…just kidding, no they’re not)
- Cilantro or green onions to garnish
RECIPE (sauce, recipe adapted by Tim Anderson’s in Vegan Japaneasy)
- 1/3 cup + 2 tsp red miso paste (though a blend of white and red also work)
- 2 TBSP mirin
- 1 TBSP of sugar
- 2-3 tsp of water or sake (sake prolongs shelf-life)
- A few drops of rice vinegar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small to medium mixing bowl until there are no lumps. Set aside.
- Peel the skins off the eggplants, if desired. Slice diagonally into even pieces.
- Assemble the eggplant pieces on a lined baking tray.
- Evenly toss the eggplant in garlic, oil, salt, and pepper.
- Repeat with 2/3rd’s of the sweet miso sauce with eggplant.
- Roast the eggplant for 20-25 minutes, ensuring each piece is cooked entirely.
- Remove the eggplant from the oven and toss with the rest of the sweet miso sauce.
- Plate and garnish with cilantro or green onions. Serve warm.
What are your health goals? Favorite Japanese dish?