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)
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.