Miso is the perfect balance of salty, sweet, fruity and savory. This sheer complexity of flavor is like no other and is a formidable match for the full-bodied silkiness of eggplant. Roasting the eggplants makes this a much healthier alternative to traditional Japanese deep-fried miso eggplant. But beware, this dish is super addictive!

INGREDIENTS 

  • 4 eggplants (about 1.5 kg)
  • 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 eschalots (about 200 g), finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 200 ml dashi (Japanese soup stock) or other vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons tamari 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 400 g soba noodles
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced Chinese shallots
  • 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  • sea salt and black pepper

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Peel strips of skin from the eggplants, from top to bottom, so it leaves a stripy pattern. Cut into 2 cm cubes and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with half the olive oil and roast for 20–25 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven, place in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and allow to cool.
  3. Place the eschalot and the remaining oil in a large pan and sauté over medium heat for 3–4 minutes. Once softened, add the ginger and garlic and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes. Add the miso paste, dashi or stock, mirin, soy sauce, caster sugar, and sake and stir well to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens slightly. Finally, add the roasted eggplant to the miso sauce and combine well.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Combine the soba noodles, miso eggplant and Chinese shallot and season well to taste. Place on a serving plate and scatter over the walnuts.