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Eggplant with Miso Sauce and Spinach

I like the contrast that the spinach provides here, but you could just as easily simplify the recipe and turn this into a side dish by making just the eggplant with the addictive sauce. This recipe is adapted from Cooking One on One by John Ash (Clarkson Potter 2004).

Makes 4 servings


4 Japanese eggplants

1/4 cup rice flour*

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Canola or other vegetable oil for frying

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Miso Sauce:

6 tablespoons sake

2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons red or white miso, or combination


12 ounces spinach

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Canola or other vegetable oil for frying

Cut the eggplants into 1/2-inch coins and salt (see instructions). Whisk together the rice flour, cayenne pepper and salt and place on a large plate. Dredge the slices in the flour and transfer to a platter, shaking off any excess. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring sake and mirin to a boil, then add sugar and miso and stir over medium heat, without boiling, until smooth. Cover and keep warm over a very low flame.

Toss the spinach with the soy sauce, sesame oil and grated ginger. Add oil to large saute pan and saute spinach until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then begin frying the eggplant slices in batches until golden on both sides, about five minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Briefly reheating the spinach first if necessary, mound 1/4 of it on each plate, top with 1/4 of the eggplant slices, drizzle with the miso sauce and scatter with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

* You can make rice flour at home by running white rice through a spice or coffee grinder until finely ground, then sifting it through a fine strainer. It is also sold already ground at some specialty stores.

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