Eggplant (aubergine) is an absolutely brilliant ingredient to use for soaking up flavours. With its slightly meaty texture it makes it a fantastic- one of my favourite in fact – vegetarian dish. Particularly when paired with a miso butter sauce! Miso (fermented soy bean paste) lends the dish a salty, savoury flavour packed full of umami which will satisfy the palate of even the most ardent meat eater and delight the most staunch vegetarians. The butter also adds an extra dimension of richness. If you are vegan, you can easily substitute the butter for extra virgin olive oil and you won’t notice too much difference. Either way the miso butter sauce in this recipe is absolutely delicious and can be used for a great many dishes.
Miso is also great for your stomach and thyroid glands. It is high in all sorts of nutrients including B vitamins, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. It comes in a number of varieties that are classified on the type of grain (all miso has soy bean and a grain like rice or barley as the main ingredients) used in the fermentation process and how long the fermentation has happened. All of the different varieties are used for different cooking purposes; some are sweet while others are super salty and almost taste like yeast extract (marmite or vegemite). Generally speaking the lighter the colour the miso the less time it has been fermented and therefore the more sweet it will be.
For this miso butter sauce recipe I used Shiro miso, which is a young rice miso that is sweet and subtle in flavour and works absolutely brilliantly in this recipe. Make sure you don’t use any dark miso for this recipe as you won’t get such great results and will have to use far less so as not to make it too salty.
Miso Butter Sauce and Eggplant Ingredients (serves 2):
1 large eggplant (aubergine)
1 cup water or vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp shiro miso
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (you can also use mirin vinegar and not add any sugar)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 spring onion to garnish
4 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 cups short/medium grain rice (+4 cups water to cook it in)
2 tbsp olive /coconut oil
Miso Butter Sauce and Eggplant Method:
In a pot add in the short/medium grain rice and rinse at least three times to get rid of the excess starch. Add slightly more than twice the amount of water and bring to the boil. Once it has come to the boil turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes until all of the water has evaporated. Leave to sit with the lid on once cooked until ready to serve.
Once the rice is on to cook grab a small sauce pan and add the 1 cup water or stock, Shiro miso, butter, rice wine vinegar (or miring and no sugar), sugar, soy sauce. Bring to the boil and slowly simmer for at least 10 minutes or until about reduced by a third. The miso butter sauce will thicken further when you add it to the eggplant later.
Cut the eggplant (aubergine) into regular sized cubes and slice the garlic thinly. In a pan heat up the olive/coconut oil on high heat until hot and add in the sliced garlic – cook for 30 seconds before adding the eggplant.
Sauté the eggplant until it starts to brown. Don’t move it about too much in the pan to help this happen. Once one side is browned you can shake it around a bit. Cook for about 5 minutes until most sides are browned.
Pour the miso butter sauce over the sautéed eggplant and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the eggplant is soft.
Heat a frying pan (preferably a cast iron one – the heavier the better) and turn the heat onto low and add the sesame seeds. Dry toast them for about 5 minutes. Make sure you keep them moving in the pan to stop them from burning.
Slice the spring onion thinly.
Serve the miso butter sauce and eggplant over the rice and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced spring onion.