There's a lot of talk about "umami" on the interwebs these days... And if you want to know what it means, in real terms... Then try making yourself this eggplant dish and you will soon find out!
That magical flavor, beyond sweet or sour, bitter or savory... That unnamable fifth element of taste that satisfies in all of your taste buds in one fell sweep...
Sounds incredible and unobtainable, doesn't it. Well, if you get yourself some miso paste and some honey... You have got it right there... Just like that- easy as can be!
Paired with a simple, improvised, refreshing little rice noodle salad this evening, this was a perfect supper, which hit all of the right spots. It was easy, it was healthy and it was super delicious... And made from - you guessed it... Very, very few ingredients... As always!
Basically, all I really had in the fridge was the eggplant. Sigh. Sure, I had herbs and half of a cucumber... But how could that possibly make a meal?
Well, just take a look and see... I added to them 1 bundle of brown rice noodles, 1chili pepper, 1 shallot, 1 tablespoon of miso paste, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 lime, some fresh mint, sesame oil, fish sauce, a splash of sherry ( as I had no mirin), hoisin sauce... and the result? Well, as you can see... It was pretty wonderful, to say the least!
Really light but still, really satisfying, I gave this a try this evening and it is definitely one of my favorite preparations for eggplant ever! I guessed it would turn out good before I started, obviously... But I really had no way of knowing just how wonderful it would turn out to be! Seriously!
For the marinade/glaze, for the eggplant, I simply stirred together 1 tablespoon of miso paste and 1 teaspoon of honey, with a splash of sherry and about a tablespoon of sesame oil. That was it.
I topped and tailed the eggplant, cut it into wedges and prodded them all over with a fork before brushing them with the marinade. I then turned on the oven to get it nice and hot for10 minutes and in the meantime of course, the glaze had a chance to start flavoring the eggplant.
10 minutes later, onto a baking dish and into the oven they went, on a low shelf, at 170 C for around 40 minutes... More than enough time to prepare that salad!
The first thing to do of course is to put the rice noodles into a bowl and to cover them with boiling water to soak. Whilst that is happening, cut the chili into a very fine dice, remove the seeds from the cucumber and cut it into a slightly larger dice and slice up the shallot as thinly as you can.
After 5 minutes or so, once the noodles are soft, pour off most of the water and snip them into shorter lengths using some kitchen scissors... make them easier to eat- life is difficult enough as it is!
Now, with most of the hot water poured away, add the shallot, the chili (as little or as much as you are willing to handle!), the juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and a splash of sesame oil. Let them sit and finish "cooking" together in the residual heat.
This takes the harshness away from the shallot and the chili, but at the same time, infuses into the noodles, along with all of the other aromatics... And packs them full of flavor!
After 40 minutes, the eggplant will look like this... Deep golden, caramelized and packed with flavor!
Add the diced cucumber and finely chopped mint to the noodles as soon as they are cold and mix together well. Serve with a drizzle of hoisin sauce and some toasted sesame seeds and whilst you are at it, sprinkle the eggplant slices with sesame too!
The salad is tangy, refreshing, crunch, fresh and delicious... So perfect for the summer! (If only we were having one over here in Frankfurt!
And that eggplant? Don't let those charred edges put you off... The flavor punch they pack is sublime and outrageous at the same time! This is one of many ways to prepare eggplant, that works really, really well!
As I so often tend to say... Try it! You'll like it!!