Eggplant gratine two ways; Marinara and Yuzu-miso sauce with cheese

japanese cake

Last time we had a chance to grill outside, I grilled a small Italian eggplant trying to make “yakinasu”  やきなす or Japanese style grilled eggplant but it was not really good. So, when I saw a nice Zebra eggplant in the market, I had to get one. Since It was not feasible to fire-up a grill outside, I asked my wife how she like the eggplant cooked. I got a bit ambiguous answer. So I decided to halve the eggplant and make one in an Italian style with Marinara sauce and cheese and the other half in a Japanese style i.e., “citrus miso dengaku” with cheese, so that I can not go wrong.

I cooked the eggplant in my usual way. I cut the eggplant in half length wise. Then I cut the meat around the edges close to the skin and in cross-hatch pattern but not cutting through to the skin (This is hasten and make cooking uniform). I put about 2 tbs of light olive oil in a frying pan on a medium flame. When the oil is hot and shimmering, I put in the eggplant the cut side down. The eggplant eventually absorbs all the oil. After 1-2 minutes, I put on the tightly fitting lid and turned down the flame to low and let it cook about 10 minutes. The eggplant should be soft and thoroughly cooked with the cut surface nicely brown. I transferred the eggplant halves to a baking sheet (or ramekin) and layered one with Marinara sauce and the other with Yuzu-citrus miso. Then I topped them with grated cheese (I used a mixture of Cheddar and Raclette here but any melting cheese will do) and put them in a 400F oven (I used a toaster oven) for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Marinara sauce: I placed olive oil (1/4 cup), 3-4 cloves of garlic (minced), and red pepper flakes (optional), in a small deep pot on a low flame. When the garlic became fragrant,  I added canned whole tomato, drained and crushed (16 oz can), dried oregano and basil (1/2 tsp, each), salt and freshly ground black pepper. I simmered this sauce for 30 minutes. I tasted and adjusted the salt and pepper. You may want to add a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity.

Yuzu-miso sauce: Mix red miso (3 tbs), sugar (2tbs), and mirin (3 tbs) in a small sauce pan on a low flame. Keep stirring until nice thin saucy consistency is attained (about 5 minutes). I added 1 tsp of dark roasted sesame oil (optional) at the end and mix well. Off heat, I add Yuzu juice (from a bottle) (1 tsp) and zest of one lime (using a micrograter) or just lime or lemon juice and zest.

In the above picture, on the left is the eggplant with Marinara sauce and on the right is the one with Yuzu-miso sauce. I garnished the Yuzu-miso eggplant with the zest of a lime and, if I had fresh basil, I would have garnished the marinara sauce side with chopped basil. You can have this with wine, beer or sake. We had this with Poggio Il Castellare Sant Antimo Cervio Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, which taste  more like California cab rather than Super Tuscan, but it went very well with this dish nonetheless.

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