Nasu-miso with oyster mushrooms

Nasu-miso with oyster mushrooms

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The aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables in the whole world. It carries flavour so well and has a filling, meaty and tender texture when cooked just right. There is nothing worse than undercooked foamy aubergine though! I love them collapsing into rich tomato sauces like Sicilian caponatas or as part of Turkish mezzes, and in rich South Indian or Malaysian curries, and – of course – cooked with lamb, as the Israelis do. But, one of my favourite ways to prepare aubergine is with a Japanese miso sauce dressing – either whole baked miso aubergine (nasu-dengaku) or fried miso aubergine (nasu-miso).

It’s a really straightforward dish to prepare. The only word of caution is just to really make sure your aubergines are cooked through before serving. My favourite technique for ensuring they cook through is to give them a helping hand with a little water, which helps steam them slightly. You can of course persist with frying them in lots of oil, but I find you can burn them easily, or that they just endlessly absorb all the oil you add.

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I’m sure I’ve succeeded in bastardising the flavours and/or techniques of the authentic version of this dish slightly, but I’m not too bothered because it tasted great, so silky and sumptuous in texture too. I’ve added a little twist with oyster mushrooms and a few sliced spring onions and garlic, because it just seemed like the right thing to do.

You will need:

2 tbspn groundnut (or other flavourless) oil
8 baby aubergines, cut into thick slices
2 tbspn sesame oil
A large handful/pack of oyster mushrooms
2 tbspns miso paste
1 tbspn dark soy sauce
1.5 tbspn sugar
2 tbspn mirin or rice wine vinegar
2 spring onions, sliced finely
1 garlic clove, crushed
A sprinkle of sesame seeds, to serve

Method:

1 – Mix together the miso, soy sauce, mirin/vinegar and sugar in a bowl
2 – Heat the groundnut oil in a large wok and tip in the aubergines when hot; fry for a couple of minutes until they start to brown
3 – Carefully add about 75-100ml of water to the wok and let it sizzle away to help steam the aubergines
4 – Once the water has evaporated, add the sesame oil to the pan and fry the aubergines, stirring often, until completely soft (about 3 minutes)
5 – Now tip in the oyster mushrooms; cook for a couple of minutes until softened before adding the garlic, stirring well, and then the miso sauce mix
6 – Turn the heat down and cook for a further minute or so, until the veggies are well coated in the sauce and the sauce reduces ever so slightly and becomes a little thicker; stir in the spring onion and serve immediately with a sprinkle of sesame seeds

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