Stir Fried Japanese Eggplant with Ginger and Miso

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Eggplant has always been a rather challenging vegetable for me. Usually I get these big whoppers that stare at me for a week before I finally roast them and make baba ganoush. Eggplant isn’t like green beans or broccoli that you can just steam and top with butter. You really need to do something with it.

Fortunately, Japanese eggplant is, in my opinion, a lot easier to work with than globe eggplant. These asian eggplants are long and narrow, are much more delicate on the inside and have more tender skin. They’re lovely.

This recipe for Japanese eggplant stir-fried with ginger in a miso sake sauce comes from my friend Nancy Hachisu’s stunning new cookbook, Japanese Farm Food (great book!), and according to Nancy, is her husband Tadaki’s “soul food”.

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This year I’m growing Japanese eggplant in my garden, and have been using this recipe every time a few more eggplants get long and ripe enough to pick. So good! And so easy to make.

The few ingredients are easy enough to come by, especially if you have access to an Asian market or Whole Foods. Here in Northern California you can find Japanese eggplant, miso, and sake at Safeways and Raley’s.

Nancy uses shiso, a Japanese mint-like herb in this dish, which can sometimes be a challenge to find. I’m growing Thai basil which worked great as a substitute, you can also sub regular fresh mint.

Stir Fried Japanese Eggplant with Ginger and Miso Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Nancy's recipe calls for shiso, a mint-like herb that you often find served with sushi in Japanese restaurants here in the states. I don't have shiso around but am growing Thai basil which was a lovely substitute. You could also use a little sliced fresh mint. If you don't have dried chili peppers, try using a generous pinch of red chili pepper flakes.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp good quality miso (we used white miso)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sake
  • 1 pound (450 g) Japanese eggplants (4 to 5 long, skinny eggplants)
  • 6 Tbsp canola oil, cold-pressed sesame oil, grape seed oil, rice bran oil, or other high smoke-point oil
  • 2 whole, dried red chili peppers, torn in half
  • 1 Tbsp peeled, slivered fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp finely sliced shiso leaves, Thai basil leaves, or fresh mint leaves

Method

1 Stir the miso and the sake together in a small bowl, set aside.

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2 Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Then slice them on a diagonal, crosswise, in a little less than 1/2-inch thick slices.

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3 Heat the chilies in the oil in a wok or large skillet on medium heat. Once the chilies start to sizzle, and you can smell the aroma of the chilies, add the ginger and eggplant slices, and toss to coat with the oil. Stir gently for several minutes until the eggplant pieces are shiny and soft.

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4 Add the miso-sake mixture to the eggplant pieces and gently stir to coat. Remove from heat. Stir in the chopped shiso, Thai basil, or mint leaves, and serve immediately.

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Recipe adapted from, and used with permission by, Nancy Hachisu, author of Japanese Farm Food.

Links:

Nasu no miso dengaku - slow roasted Japanese eggplant recipe from Maki of Just Hungry

Stuffed miso eggplant from Jaden of Steamy Kitchen

Yaki nasu - grilled Japanese eggplant by Tara of Tea and Cookies

Stir Fried Japanese Eggplant with Ginger and Miso

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Showing 4 of 16 Comments

  • Susan

    Hey thanks for this recipe, I’m going to try it! I used eggplant in a Chinese style on my blog (http://flavor-scout.com/2013/09/03/kung-pao-eggplant/) but hadn’t thought to do a Japanese inspired dish. I LOVE miso, and love Japanese and my family loves eggplant so I’m definitely doing this one soon.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Caroline

    Made this yesterday with red miso and thai basil. DELICIOUS! And so easy to make! Thank you for another winning recipe. I actually have Nancy Hachisu’s cookbook, but missed the recipe. Your blog is one of my go-to recipe sources. Thank you, Elise.

  • ash wang

    thank you for sharing this recipe! :) for an authentically japanese taste, I’d suggest doing without the red chili peppers and the shiso/basil/mint, and also stir frying the eggplant slices in a very lightly flavored oil like olive or canola. i followed the recipe closely minus the shiso/basil/mint and i personally found the spiciness of the red chilis and the extra aromatic spices, with the exception of ginger, to be at odds with the “umami” taste of the eggplant, as was the sesame oil ( a bit too pungent for me.)

  • Mimsey

    Made this recipe tonight using white miso. Absolutely delicious. The miso-sake sauce is wonderful, tho I think I will thin it out with a little more sake next time. The Japanese eggplant is so tender & mild. The chili pepper (I used a few shakes of flakes) and the ginger add just the right level of background zing, but it’s not spicy. The miso-sake is faintly sweet. Such a nice balance of flavors. The bonus is that this dish is so quick & easy to make!

  • Leah

    So I made this with regular eggplant and it was yummy. I peeled the eggplant (as suggested:) and cooked it a little longer, so that it had some nice brown bits but was still firm and juicy. I used white miso and regular mint. Will definitely make again, although I think the texture and finer flavor of the Asain eggplant would make this recipe really great.

    Thanks for reporting back and letting us know! ~Elise

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