Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cherry Miso Glaze (for roasted eggplant, asparagus, & more)

While I was in the US for Christmas I wanted to introduce my parents to the incredible Japanese Oatmeal that has become a staple on the breakfast rotation at our house. We had such trouble finding miso in any of the nearby grocery stores that we gave up. I'm sure that I could have found it if we'd searched further afield, but we had better things to do with the precious little time we get with family and friends on our visits to Texas. With all the miso recipes appearing on American food blogs, I'm guessing it's not too hard to find if you know where to look for it. Sounds like Whole Foods is a good bet for sourcing miso, and any larger grocery store that has a good international foods section. So while you're there purchasing Vegemite or Marmite for your cheesymite scrolls, stock up on miso, too. The salty, slightly fermented taste adds such a rich depth to whatever food you pair it with.

I've seen some recipes for miso-glazed eggplant around the web, and have been hankering to try it out. Tonight we thought it would complement the crispy-skin salmon we had in mind, and the entire meal turned out perfectly. Instead of the typical mirin-miso blend for this glaze, I used some local Australian cherry juice, mixed with a bit of miso and raw sugar. Cooked over low heat for a few minutes, it reduced down into a beautiful, dark burgundy glaze. We used it to baste some small eggplant halves and some whole asparagus, and the result was delicious.
cherry miso glaze over roasted eggplant and asparagus @ Southern Spoon blog
Apologies for possibly the worst photo on this blog-- we were hungry after a long day at work.
But I promise this cherry miso glaze over  roasted eggplant and asparagus tastes amazing.
You could easily use this glaze on other vegetables that do well in roast: halved brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, baby squash, zucchini, etc. When spread over the surface of the vegetable, the glaze imparts a more subtle flavor, while a sliced or scored vegetable will soak up more of the sweet-salty flavor. This glaze would also work well on baked meat dishes such as a mild fish, pork tenderloin, and chicken breasts or thighs.

If you can't find cherry juice, try substituting pomegranate or even apple juice. Just make sure that you're buying 100% juice, no sugar or preservatives added. The miso is a necessary ingredient--  I promise you'll be glad you invested in it and will find it a flexible, long-lasting ingredient in the kitchen. Go out on a limb experimenting with these ingredients if you never have before, and enjoy the perfectly sweet-salty balance of this delicious glaze.

Cherry Miso Glaze (and how to use it on roasted eggplant & asparagus)
makes just over 1/4 cup of glaze

1/4 cup cherry juice (100% juice, no preservatives added)
2 tablespoons miso (either yellow or white miso is fine)
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir with a whisk or fork while the mixture heats up to blend the miso into the sauce. When it begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 more minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the miso is completely incorporated.  Remove from heat.

Use glaze immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

Cherry Miso Glazed Eggplant and Asparagus
serves 3-4 people as a side dish

1/4 cup Cherry Miso Glaze
4 small eggplants (mine were about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide)
1 medium bunch of asparagus

Preheat oven to 190C.

Wash the eggplant and asparagus. Remove and discard the leafy tops from the eggplants, and snap off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus spears.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, and score each half of flesh into a cross-hatch pattern, cutting all the way to (but not through) the eggplant skin.

Lightly brush or spray the eggplant and asparagus with olive oil, and place on a baking sheet or roasting tray. Place the tray in the pre-heated oven, and bake for 6 minutes.

Remove tray from oven, and carefully baste the eggplant flesh and the asparagus spears with the cherry miso glaze. You may have a bit of glaze leftover-- store for another use. Return the basted vegetables to the oven and bake at 190C for another 10-15 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and beginning to brown and the asparagus spears are tender when a fork is stuck through them. Serve immediately.

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