Nasu Dengaku

Nasu Dengaku, eggplant topped with a ground chicken and miso paste and cooked to crispy perfection is an appetizer or a small plate dish that can be found at izakayas across Japan. Although normally fire grilled, this version can be cooked in any home kitchen.

Nasu Dengaku is crispy grilled eggplant topped with a meat and miso paste known as nikumiso.  Although it is fire grilled when cooked in restaurants, it can be cooked at home by frying the eggplant and then broiling. The eggplant is crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside.  Although an appetizer or a small plate, it is very filling and a single piece can make a nice appetizer for two people to share.

Nasu Dengaku

To make this dish you first must make the nikumiso, which can be prepared in advance.  The recipe actually makes enough nikumiso to top two eggplants, but it can be also used as a white rice topper, as a soup base, or an ingredient in mapo tofu (a Szechuan meat and tofu stir fry).  Unused nikumiso can be stored in a refrigerator for about a week and reused,  The eggplant is first fried to crisp up the skin, and then topped with miso paste and broiled.

PREP COOKING YIELD
1 hour Serves 4
PREP 1 hour
COOKING
YIELD Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Sicilian Eggplant
  • 2 TBSP Cooking oil

Nikumiso

  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 TBSP dark miso
  • 1 TBSP fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 lb ground chicken

Instructions:

Prepare Nikumiso

  • Brown the chicken over medium high heat in a non-stick saucepan.

  • Add the scallions, ginger and mirin and continue to cook for another minute.

  • Add in the water and miso.  Bring to boil while stirring, ensure that the miso is completely melted and there are no lumps.

  • Reduce heat to medium, boil for about 20-25 minutes until the liquid is reduced and only a paste remains.

  • Set aside to cool.

Prepare the Eggplant

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking pan.
  • Slice the eggplant into 4 one inch slices.

  • Score the eggplant on both sides.  Fry the eggplant in oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Turn and fry for 3 minutes more.

  • Lay the eggplant flat in the baking pan.

  • Spoon the Nikumiso over eggplant slices, completely covering the top of each eggplant slice.

  • Cook the eggplant in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes until miso darkens but does not burn.

      • Serve while hot.

Notes:

  • For this dish, I like to use a dark red miso (aka miso) for the nikumiso recipe.  It produces a very strong and salty paste which contrasts with the taste of the eggplant.
  • I use ground chicken, although ground pork, beef or turkey could be substituted.

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