Pretty in Purple - Eggplant with Neri Miso

Posted on August 20, 2009 at 2:55 AM

When I visit the Santa Monica Farmers Market I am always amazed at the variety of food farmers are growing and fishermen are catching locally. Just today, I found live spotted sprimp from Santa Barbara, which is in season until November, Korean Shiso, Japanese shiso -both green and purple types, dehydrated kaki, Japanese Koho white peaches and these gorgeous eggplants . Italian, American, Japanese eggplants - all one happy purple family.

Sun drying eggplant

Drying eggplant in the sun brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness and adds texture. Just a couple of hours will make a difference. You can do this with other vegetables such as daikon radish, zuchinni, and carrots. To accompany this eggplant dish, I made some Neri-miso - a thick all purpose sauce that goes well with grilled eggplant and grilled tofu. The classic Neri Miso can be much sweeter than my neri miso recipe. The eggplant itself can be sweet. Also the miso, sugar, sake and mirin. In other words, all the ingredients in this recipe contribute to the sweetness but sugar in particular. The amount of sugar you use depends on how salty the miso paste is and how keen you are about using sugar. The sweetness of mirin may just be enough. The saltiness differs from miso to miso, so taste the Neri miso and make adjustments accordingly. You can also add a half a teaspoon of grated yuzu or roasted sesame seeds, which are both wonderfully fragrant. Neri Miso can be used with both the sun dried eggplants and regular eggplants. Both recipes are listed below.                        



Pan fried Eggplant with Neri Miso

Makes 4 servings


  • 3 Japanese eggplants
  • 3-4 Tbls olive oil
Miso Sauce (Neri Miso): 
  • 3 Tbls Miso paste (red or white miso - I like to use mild miso, which is not too salty)  
  • 1 Tbls sugar  (as needed)
  • 2 Tbls Mirin (sweet sake)
  • 1 Tbls Sake
  • 1/2 Tsp grated ginger juice
  • Chopped chives 
  • Crushed red chili peppers or shichimi pepper
  • Red chili peppers or shichimi pepper
  • Grated Yuzu (optional)
  • Roasted sesame seeds
Neri Miso made with white miso

  1. Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch pieces crosswise.  Sun dry for 2-3 hours.  
  2. In a non stick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Grill or Pan fry the sun-dried eggplant until it is toasted on both sides and cooked inside but not too soft, about 4-5 minutes.  Make sure there are no dry spots.  If you find any, brush surface of eggplant with olive oil.  Remove from heat.  Keep warm.
  3. In a small bowl, mix miso, sugar, sake, ginger jurice and mirin.  Cook the mixture in a small pan over low heat. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the miso mixture is no longer runny. Be careful not to burn the neri miso. 
  4. Serve the eggplant in a bowl. Garnish with chopped chives and and red chili pepper and serve the Neri Miso on the side.
Dengaku style Eggplant with Neri Miso just out of the oven


Alternatively, you can slice each eggplant lengthwise into four, base it with olive oil and follow the same steps as the other recipe to cook and toast the eggplant on both sides. Then dab the Neri Miso generously on top of each eggplant and put them under the broiler to toast the miso. Keep a close eye on the eggplant so they don't burn. Serve immediately with the garnishes.

Neri Miso ist best if you can use it within five days.

Omit sugar if you are doing Macrobiotic.

Categories: Vegetable and Seaweed Dishes , Vegetarian

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