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Microwaved miso eggplant

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Pickles and Tea

(Read caption) Serve this miso-marinaded eggplant with rice and a main course for a quick side dish.

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I love eggplant: Eggplant in baba ghanouj, eggplant in spicy tomato sauce, eggplant cooked fish-fragrant-style, the list goes on.

As much as I enjoy eggplant in all its permutations, one thing I don’t do much of is cook eggplant.

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I don’t care for the tedium of salting eggplant (although the debate is up in the air about this technique’s effectiveness, as my friend Ann Mah’s post explores). Many recipes I’ve wanted to try involve multiple steps, quite often deep-frying. And overall, eggplant just looks so intimidating – perhaps it has something to do with its royal color?

So when I came across this genius recipe by microwave guru Barbara Kafka (her cookbook "Microwave Gourmet" is game-changing!). I knew I had to try cooking eggplant in the microwave.

In the past, my sole reason for having a microwave oven in the kitchen was to heat up food and drinks. Why cook in the microwave when I had a stove and oven? Then I discovered the ease of microwaving rice. And boom, I embarked on a journey of discovery that led to microwaved fish, microwaved eggs, and even microwaved nutella mug cake!

Like many microwave recipes, cooking eggplant is a minimal-step process. I skipped the salting, made the marinade, let the eggplant sit for a little bit, et voilà, the dish was ready after 10-minute spin in the microwave.

I have to admit, the flesh crinkled up un-prettily, but it was also soft and silky, bursting with the salty (miso), sweet (sugar) and spicy (ginger) flavors of the marinade. That’s a small price to pay for a faster and cleaner way to cook eggplant, with delicious results. And I intend to use it.

Microwaved miso eggplant
Serves 4 as a side dish 

I adapted the miso marinade from a recipe in my cookbook but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use your favorite marinade, even store-bought! If you can find Chinese or Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 small ones will make a pound), halve them lengthwise and make a crosshatch pattern in the flesh.

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3 tablespoons miso (red or white is fine)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dry sherry or sake (optional, may omit)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (a 1-by-1/4-inch piece)
1 (1-pound) globe eggplant
Black or white sesame seeds

1. Whisk together the miso, sugar, sherry (is using), and water in a small bowl until smooth.

2. Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch discs, then carefully cut a shallow X on each surface. Place the eggplant in your largest microwave-safe dish. if you cant get them in a single layer, that’s okay.

3. Spoon the marinade over each disc, rubbing it into the flesh so that it runs into the X. Turn to coat and let sit for 45 minutes.

4. Cover tightly with a lid (if it doesn’t have a hole, leave it slightly ajar) or microwave-safe plastic wrap (prick plastic to release steam). Cook at 100 percent power in a high-power oven for 10 minutes (my oven is 1100 watts) or until soft and crinkly.

5. Remove from microwave and uncover. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve warm with freshly-steamed rice.

Related post on Pickles and Tea: Indonesian Spicy Eggplant (Terong Belado)