Miso Glazed Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku)

Miso Glazed Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku)

Nasu Dengaku (なす田楽) is a miso glazed eggplant dish popular in Japan in the middle of summer, when eggplants are at the peak of their season. Ironically, in a country that has dozens of varieties of eggplants, this dish is most often made with beinasu(米ナス) or “American Eggplant”. The thick meaty flesh of these bulbous aubergines provides the perfect creamy foil for the intensely flavorful dengaku sauce.

The eggplant is simply deep fried or grilled before being slathered in a thick coating of sweet and savory miso sauce. Potent, earthy and coffee black, hatchō miso is the miso of choice when making the sauce, but dengaku sauce can be made with almost any kind of miso. I’ve even seen eggplants glazed with a ying and yang contrast of half white miso and half hatchō miso.

Nasu Dengaku Recipe

While deep frying the eggplant yields a rich creamy eggplant that retains the purple color in the skin, sometimes I feel like something lighter with easier cleanup, which is why I’ve developed this pan-fry+steam method outlined below. I’ll be honest, if you want a rich, unctuous eggplant, skip steps 4-7 and just deep fry the scored eggplant halves, but if you want a low-fat, easy cleanup alternative, this method still produces a marvelously caramelized exterior with a light creamy interior.

Some of you may be wondering why I include both sake(rice wine) and mirin(sweet rice wine) in the sauce. The naturally occurring maltose (rice sugar) in good mirin is what gives the sauce some of its sweetness as well as its glossy sheen. If you can’t find quality mirin in your area (mirin shouldn’t have anything other than water, rice and koji in it), you can substitute a blend of sake and corn syrup (which is unfortunately how most cheap mirin is made these days).

Equipment you'll need:

Miso Glazed Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku)
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Creamy eggplant slathered with a sweet and savory hatcho miso glaze, nasu dengaku (なす田楽) is a Japanese favorite.
Miso Glazed Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku)
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Creamy eggplant slathered with a sweet and savory hatcho miso glaze, nasu dengaku (なす田楽) is a Japanese favorite.
Servings Prep Time
eggplant halves 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Servings Prep Time
eggplant halves 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons hatcho miso
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 tablespoon sugar - granulated
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 scallion finely chopped
  • ginger - fresh thinly julienned
Units:
Instructions
  1. To make the dengaku sauce, use a whisk to mash together the miso, mirin, sake and sugar in a small saucepan, breaking up the miso before whisking until there are no lumps.
  2. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so the glaze does not burn.
  3. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise and then cut a cross-hatch pattern of slices, going about 3/4 of the way through the eggplant but without cutting through the skin. This not only helps the eggplant cook faster, it also provides little valleys for the dengaku sauce to penetrate the eggplant.
  4. Heat a sauté pan that has a lid until hot and then add the oil. Fry the eggplant with the cut surface facing the pan until evenly browned.
  5. Flip the eggplant over and then add 1/4 cup of sake, quickly closing the lid to capture the steam. Steam until the sake is gone.
  6. Flip the eggplant back over and then add 1/4 cup of water. Cover quickly and continue steaming until a toothpick passes through the eggplant easily. If the eggplant is still too hard in parts, add a bit more water and continue to steam.
  7. Remove the lid and allow any excess water to evaporate.
  8. Transfer the eggplant onto a plate and slather the cut-side with dengaku sauce. Garnish with scallions and ginger and serve.

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  • Natika

    Delicious and easy – the perfect combo!

  • Kaliis Smith

    Do you have any recommendations for brand as far as mirin? (I too always check the labels at my local Asian market, but am usually relegated to buying the one with the shortest ingredient list and that one is still using glucose syrup)

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Kaliis, it’s been a while since I’ve gone shopping for Japanese ingredients in the US, so I don’t really have any brand recommendations. My best suggestion is to go to a place with a large mirin selection such as Mitsuwa or another large Japanese grocery store and check the ingredient labels as you have been doing.

    • http://anewblog.squarespace.com/ Michael Allen

      I use miring from the brand Eden. I’ve read that it is much truer to an authenticate Japanese mirin because it’s not sweetened.

  • tata

    doesn’t beat Yaki Nasu!

  • http://lettersfromtheline.wordpress.com/ Letters From The Line

    Eggplant is so simple and tasty to prepare, especially like this. I sometimes like eating it at room temperature because it reminds me of getting it as a tapa in Spain.

  • http://simplyrecipes.com/ Elise Bauer

    Oh, nasu dengaku is one of my favorite all time Japanese dishes. The miso sauce is so perfect with the eggplant. Thanks for posting!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You’re welcome, thanks for stopping by, it’s good to hear from you:-)

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!