Eggplant and Miso in a Wok

The traditional version of this Japanese recipe is made with eggplant and small Japanese green peppers. But the sweetened miso sauce can be used with a variety of vegetables: asparagus, cabbage, kale, mushrooms, mustard greens, radicchio, tomatoes, zucchini—use your imagination to create a colorful meal. To make this dish a bit more hearty, I added some freeze-dried tofu (soaked, and cooked in dashi with soy sauce) and served it surrounding a mound of rice. This dish would be vegetarian if I had not added the birds sculpted from hot dogs to decorate the plate.

Japanese vegetable dish

Eggplant and Miso in a Wok
Nasu no Bura-miso Itame
serves 4 as a sidedish, or 2 as a light main dish
page 243
The Sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon akamiso (brown miso)
  • 1 Tablespoon mamemiso (soybean miso)
  • 2 Tablespoons sake (rice wine)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (or more to taste)

green peppersCombine the sauce ingredients in a cup and stir to make a smooth sauce.
The Vegetables:

  • 2 Japanese or other small green peppers, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces (I used Cubano)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces (I used sweet Italian peppers)
  • sweet italian red peppers 9 ounces eggplant: 4-5 small Japanese, or 1-2 Italian (the skin was tough, so I peeled my eggplant), cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and julienned

The recipe directs the cook to parboil the peppers for 1 minute, chill in ice water, and dry. I did half of the peppers this way, but because I don’t like the skins of peppers, I roasted the other half over a gas flame and peeled off the skin. The green pepper prepared this way lost its bright green color.
Cooking:

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • a few drops of Tamari
  • Shichimi togarashi (7-spice powder), or chile pepper flakes

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and cook for 20 seconds. Remove it from the pan and reserve.
Add the vegetable oil to the wok, and when it’s hot, add the eggplant, and cook so all sides are golden. Add the peppers and ginger. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sauce and toss/stir to distribute it evenly. Add tamari and shichimi togarashi and toss again.

nasu no abura-miso itame

Serving:
Sprinkle with minced parsley for extra color. Serve the vegetables in individual bowls as a side-dish. Or for a main-course, put white or brown rice in the center of a plate and distribute vegetables around the rim.

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Hot Dog! It’s a bird… Pork and Wakame Gyoza
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