Chicken and Aubergine in Garlic Miso Sauce


Miso has made me fall in love with the aubergine. For long years I used to associate the aubergine with, certainly good, but fat dripping and soaked in oil dishes. Then I started to explore the Japanese cuisine, discovering miso /see below/ and pairing it with the aubergine. The first time I tasted this combination, it blew me away. Since then I kept on playing with it in different stir-fried, grilled or simmered dishes and it has always confirmed my first impression of miso as the perfect aubergine flavours’ enhancer.

This simple stir-fry is only an example of my frequent use of aubergine these days. The slightly sweetish miso and garlic sauce proved a successful experiment (inspired by the excellent Garlic Miso Chicken Breasts, a modified version of Nami’s Garlic Miso Chicken Wings). I usually add garlic earlier, but I have recently learnt from Korean cuisine, how different and refreshing it tastes is when added crushed at the end of the cooking process. It worked perfectly well here too, slightly spicing up the mellow aubergine, creamy miso and the delicate chicken breast.

For those who don’t know miso (味噌), it is a thick fermented soybean paste and it has three main colour types: white (shiromiso), red (akamiso), black (kuromiso), and also mixed miso (awasemiso). In general, the lighter the colour, the more delicate the taste. There are myriads of different misos, depending on the brand, the ingredients, the region…  Miso is very healthy, packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. It is however important to choose it with a lesser amount of salt, otherwise it is no longer very healthy and may be difficult to cook (the miso’s coulour doesn’t have anything to to with its saltiness, my black miso being the least salty of all). Miso soup is usually the first dish in which foreigners discover this Japanese staple, but it can be used in different simmered and stir-fried dishes. Korean doenjang is similar to miso and Chinese cuisine also has its fermented soybean paste versions. I find miso’s flavour highly addictive, probably because it is rich in the umami, or fifth taste, made famous by a Japanese professor.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

1 big chicken breast (or two small)

2 medium aubergines (they shrink while fried)

salt, pepper


2 tablespoons miso

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon syrup (I used agave syrup)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more if using low-sodium soy sauce)

2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed

Cut up the chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Slice the aubergines and then cut the slices into quarters.

Combine all the sauce ingredients. Put aside.

Heat two tablespoons oil in a pan.

Fry the chicken until it is half cooked.
Than add the aubergine and stir-fry until the aubergine is cooked.

At the end add the miso sauce and heat for about 30 seconds.

Serve with rice.


42 Replies to “Chicken and Aubergine in Garlic Miso Sauce”

  1. Beautifully explained and how well the post was written! Anyone would be curious about this eggplant & miso combination thanks to your writing! You know what, I agree with you 100%. Miso goes well with eggplant and that’s my first seasoning choice before ponzu, soy saouce or even tomato base! Have you had eggplant with miso dengaku? Another great dish. I always wish I can explain about food well like you. Thanks for the mention Sissi!

    1. Nami, thank you so much for the compliments! It’s such a pleasure to read your comment first and so quickly because I have been thinking about you while writing the post… You have made me discover the garlic and miso combination and I also used miso as a modification of your grilled aubergine with ponzu, remember? Thank you once more!
      I haven’t tasted eggplant with miso dengaku, but I have seen it in my Japanese cookery book and planned to make it soon. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. Garlic miso sauce – that sounds absolutely divine my friend, I cannot even begin describing it 😀
    Absolutely lovely job! I think replacing the chicken with tofu and bam, we are in business 🙂
    Thank you so much!

    Choc Chip Uru

  3. This recipe just came in time as I just bought some miso over the weekend! Have always love aubergine and also loved the aubergine with ponzu sauce so this will be a great addition to my repetoire of aubergine recipes! My hubby loves aubergine too but he hasn’t tried cooking them so it’s up to me to keep it up. 😛

    1. Thank you so much, Sylvia. I’m happy it has given you a meal idea. Aubergine and miso are really made for each other.

  4. so which type of miso did you use for this sissi? Another way to have aubergine not fried and dripping in oil, is to just add it to a curry, it soaks up all the curry sauce like a sponge! I love this sound of a garlic miso sauce!

    1. Thank you, Shuhan. I have used red miso, but every kind of miso could be used here. Everything depends on one’s mood and preferences. Thank you for reminding me of the curry! I also put aubergines in Thai curry. I have completely forgotten it.

  5. Dear Sissi,

    I love eggplant too and I think it is really a match in heaven with miso. The recipe that I have made with these two ingredients is just grilling it over a BBQ or baking it in the oven rather than pan fried. I find that this method of cooking is less oily since the eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge and the skin always have a nice smoky flavour when grilled.

    1. Thank you, Chopinand. I don’t think 2 tablespoons of oil in a dish for two is really “soaking up oil like a sponge” 😉 My stir-fried dishes are very close to grilled ones.

  6. Unfortunately certain vegetables do not appeal to me because of their texture when cooked. Eggplant being one of them. Maybe I could do a broccoli in garlic miso sauce. 🙂 Lovely bowl as always.

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. Just between us, it’s my favourite bowl 🙂 so I’m glad you like it too. I have bought the last one, so it’s even more precious. I understand your dislike of the aubergine texture. For me texture is very important in food. (For example I love steak tartare when it’s ground but like much much less the fancy, recently fashionable cut with a knife version because of the texture…).

      1. I on the other hand would probably prefer the hand chopped version cause it has some texture to it and would find the ground version too “mushy”. One of the big problem fruits for me is bananas because of that. 🙁

        1. Haha! So I was right about the texture preferences (I have both friends who like ground meat and those who prefer the chopped tartare). I like bananas, but don’t like them baked in breads.

  7. I love eggplant! We use it a lot in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. This dish looks like something I would enjoy a lot too. Very informative post as usual! I learn something new every time Sissi. Thanks!


    1. Thank you so much, Nazneen. I have been planning to discover more Indian aubergine dishes because I have seen so many appetising recipes. Thank you for reminding me.

  8. I have both white miso and black miso in my refrigerator, Sissi. It was love at first taste. I often use it to add salt to dishes as I feel it also imparts a wonderful creaminess on the tongue that plain old salt does not.
    I also love Japanese eggplant, which I assume you use in this recipe (it is the light purple long thin vegetable, as opposed to the dark, almost black larger squat Italian version, which can be a bit bitter). I adore the texture of eggplant. I must bookmark this recipe for when we are back from the upcoming long weekend. Thanks Sissi.

    1. Thank you, Eva. I must have four different miso tubes in the fridge… I have also fallen in love at first bite. I felt almost as if I had been waiting for miso all my life. It’s so complex and full of flavours, isn’t it? I use salt in very scarce amounts in general because I substitute it with soy sauce and with miso partly too.
      I have used standard European aubergine. Frankly I think they stopped cultivating the bitter varieties because I have never had a bitter aubergine and never salt it before using it (I have read some bloggers have similar experience). I rarely see the very small and thin aubergine and am not even sure if it’s Japanese variety, but I like them for their thin skin.

  9. I’m actually not sure if I’ve tried aubergine and miso together before, but I’m ashamed to admit I STILL have not bought a pot of miso paste. Damnit, I keep meaning to and always forget. Your aubergine looks perfectly shrivelled and juicy – I adore aubergine in pretty much any form… even if it’s fat-dripping, lol, so you’ve given me another style to try it in… just as soon as I actually get some miso, “sigh” 😀

    1. Thank you, Charles. I didn’t say I don’t like the ones dripping with fat. It’s just that I cannot have such dishes often alas. Otherwise I would change my clothes size every year 😉 Some South Italian aubergine dishes are delicious, but soaked in fat. The same goes for some Moroccan ones I tasted.

  10. Ah, even in the depth of summer, one can never forget the mystery and allure of miso… (I’m quite sure a famous poet wrote that line :)). I adore miso and use it frequently – it just has one of those addictive, earthy tastes that I luuuv… and what a nice mixture you have going on here with the eggplant and chicken – so simple and yet wonderfully satisfying and tasty at the same time. My kind of cooking! Yay :).

    1. “Mystery and allure of miso” I love it! Kelly, you are a real poet! You know, I sometimes open the miso tube just to smell it. It is so incredibly complex… I think miso made me understand what “umami” meant. Thank you for the compliments!

  11. Sissi, I have a question, do the garlic get mixed in with the sauce? I always stir garlic first into hot oil, it makes the whole house fragrant, though from reading your posting, it has a completely different effect if added at the end?

    Very eager to give this technique a try!

    1. Hi, Jeno. I also always stir fry garlic somewhere at the beginning. I first realised it making of of Hyosun’s dishes (maybe the squid one?). When the garlic is crushed and added at the end, with the last ingredients, and then just warmed a bit, it is almost spicy because it’s almost raw. Very strong garlicky taste.
      I don’t think it’s better. It’s just different.

  12. I absolutely love eggplant and am amidst writing an article for our community paper about it and the multitude of recipes appropriate! Love miso too, but have never paired it with eggplant, in season here at the moment. Usually just have the ‘tan’, [here regarded 3 out of 5: middling] miso in the fridge. Can’t wait to try – thanks! When I first learnt to use miso was most surprised what depth of flavour it could add to one-dish soups etc 🙂 !

    1. Hi, Eha. I hope you can try miso and aubergine soon. Even just as a sauce over the grilled aubergine (like this one They are really perfect together. I used here red miso, so probably similar to yours.
      Thank you for visiting my blog! I’m looking forward to hear about your miso and aubergine experience and hope you will like it.

  13. I’ve never had aubergine with miso but it sounds delicious! At lot different than any of the methods that I use. I’ve got to try this! Thanks for all of the great information and this recipe!

  14. I always have miso in my fridge. You know, Sissi, the more I read your posts, the more I’m certain we have very similar tastes, down to the level of sweetness in our desserts. So I know that whatever I try from your blog, I’ll love. And guess what? I love this recipe! I have another really large eggplant leftover from my last dish of it eaten with a sambal concoction. Time for a less spicy route. Perfect timing!

    1. Ping, thank you so much for all the kind words. I feel so flattered and glad to have found a food soul mate! I also feel the same. Why do we live so far away??? I could bring you the desserts I love and some of my friends taste and make the funny face, as if they were biting into a lemon… And you would teach me how to make different sambals 😉 I hope you will like the aubergine and miso combination. Do you mean that you have hot dishes most of the time? I do… I have to stop myself sometimes for a day or two because in Europe we haven’t acquired a “hot pepper immunity” in wombs of our mothers 😉 and I’m always afraid I exaggerate with the frequency. (I’m a bit lost among the different sources of medical advice here).

  15. Haha! Your friends do that too?! Well, they certainly have soulmates over here 🙂
    I guess we can thank the internet for getting us closer together in a way… rather than not at all. Yes, we have quite spicy foods very often, not all the time. We do have the occasional roasts and American/European type dishes too. But the local dishes (esp if we do take out from the street stalls) are mostly spicy. Being brought up in a household of bird’s-eye chillies eaters, we have developed a high tolerance for “heat”.

    1. Internet is such a wonderful invention… Isn’t it? I wonder how I would support the heat level of your local dishes… We have the highest level of heat resistance among all my European friends and family members, but I don’t think it’s comparable to yours 😉

  16. I never tried miso with eggplants. I think the combination would be fantastic. I love eggplants and I love anything with miso. Adding chicken would make a perfect meal on its own. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Hi Sissi, before I forget I just want to let you know that you are the winner of my giveaway! Congratulations, I just know you will enjoy this beautiful, and special edition of our very famous and best loved, Bon Appetit magazine!
    I left a comment on my blog in my comment section for now, but will also announce it on my next post tonite, or tomorrow! Please contact me w/your address to send it to you!
    I am totally loving your eggplant and chicken with the miso and sake…wow, and wow! I am so inspired to make this, just need the eggplant, have miso, sake, and chicken and soy, and agave…seems like I have a pretty well stocked pantry, and fridge! I will also send you my recipe for the pickled ginger:D

    1. Elisabeth, the time difference proves sometimes such a magical thing: I was waking up with my morning coffee reading emails and I almost jumped (well I was a bit too sleepy for that 😉 ) when I read your comment! I cannot believe my luck! Thank you so much! I’m thrilled to be the winner. Thank you for organising this giveaway! I will now become an expert of American cuisine I know so badly… I’m writing to you straight away.
      Thank you for the compliments. It sounds indeed like your pantry is well stocked 🙂

  18. I really like aubergine but the girls haven’t acquired a taste for it yet. I wouldn’t have thought to pair it with miso — but this sounds like a great combination. I’m guessing that Japanese and Korean cooking are on the top of your list of favourites.

    1. Thank you so much, Barb. I suppose it’s difficult to hide my love for Japanese (and recently Korean) cuisine 😉 In the desserts section I have always loved French dishes.

  19. This looks amazing! I usually stir fry eggplant with ground chicken, Chinese black bean paste, garlic, chili and hoisin sauce. I’m definitely going to try your recipe the next time I buy eggplant.

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