Grilled Eggplant Skewers With Peanut Nerimiso (or Pīnatsu nerimiso to nasu dengaku)
Grilled foods are very popular in Japan, and include vegetables as well as meats. We here are cooking eggplant in the dengaku fashion, whereby the food is coated in a simmered miso sauce and broiled on wooden skewers (much like shish kebabs). The kanji characters for dengaku represent “rice paddy” and “music,” in apparent reference to a folk play conducted in rice fields in which one of the actors preformed while standing on a single stilt. The pieces of food impaled on a single bamboo skewer reminded people of this performance, hence giving rise to the name of this delicious food.
FOR MORE ABOUT BENTO AND ITS COMMON RECIPES, SEE JAPANESE BENTO.
• 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
• 1/2 cup white miso
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2 Japanese leeks, minced
• 2 tablespoons sake
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1-1/2 pounds Japanese eggplant
• 2 tablespoons sesame oil
• 2 Japanese leeks, cut into 1-inch slices
1. Make nerimiso by combining peanut butter, miso, brown sugar, minced leeks, sake and soy sauce in a small sauce pan. Heat to boiling and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Soak 12 to 18 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Cut eggplant into 1-inch thick rounds, and then cut each round in half.
3. Alternately run eggplant and leek slices onto the bamboo skewers until each is filled. Brush the eggplant and leek with sesame oil.
4. Steam the filled skewers for 10 minutes or until the eggplant is barely tender. Remove and cool.
5. Liberally baste the eggplant with the nerimiso sauce. Cook outdoors on a grill or indoors under the broiler of your oven until sauce begins to brown. Turn and repeat on all sides. Remove from skewers to serve.
Jeff Nekola has a PhD in Ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has a passion for biodiversity in its many forms, whether it be plants, butterflies, and land snails in the wild or crops grown in gardens, orchards and fields, or the use of those foods as expressed by the entire range of humanity's cuisines. You can learn more here.
Linda Fey's first and finest childhood memories are of helping her mother and grandmother in the garden and then bringing in freshly picked produce to the dinner table. As an adult, she has over 20 years of experience in market gardening and teaches middle-school English at the Albuquerque Institute for Math and Science. Visit www.LindaFey.com to view her writing about food and life.