Tim Anderson’s classic Japanese dish – it’s Japaneasy
So many people I speak to name this absolute classic as one of their favourite Japanese dishes, which makes me very happy. It’s not sexy like sushi, it’s not complicated like ramen and, in fact, it is even a little ugly. So I love that people get so excited about it – it’s got none of the pretence or the showiness that Japanese food is often expected to have. It’s just pure, concentrated deliciousness: fudgy aubergine with a profoundly delicious caramelised miso sauce. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and it’s easy.
Oil, for shallow-frying
120-150ml (4–5 fl oz) sweet miso sauce
Toasted sesame seeds
100 g (3½ oz) miso
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp caster (superfine) or granulated (raw) sugar
1 tbsp water or sake
½ tsp vinegar
First make the miso sauce: mix the miso, mirin, sugar, vinegar and water/sake together until the sugar has dissolved. This will keep in the fridge more or less indefinitely.
Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and score the flesh in a diamond pattern, about 5 mm (¼ in) deep (this will help them cook evenly and absorb the glaze).
Pour the oil into a deep frying pan (skillet) to a depth of about 1 cm and heat over a medium heat.
Add the aubergines and fry for about 5 minutes on each side, until the flesh has browned and softened and the skin has become glossy and brittle.
Carefully remove from the oil and drain well on kitchen paper.
Spoon the sweet miso sauce onto the scored side of each aubergine and place under a hot grill for 5–10 minutes – the glaze should bubble and brown and fuse with the aubergine.
Garnish with sesame seeds.
Japaneasy by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant, £20) | Photography © Laura Edwards | @ChefTimAnderson