Eggplant Salad with Miso

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 30 minutes

The typical way to prepare this traditional Japanese salad is to boil the eggplant, and I give directions for doing it that way. But if you have the time and energy, sautГ© the cubes in a little peanut oil, as in Ratatouille Salad, which follows. And grilled eggplant slices are great with the sesame soy variation.

About 1 pound eggplant Salt

1/3 cup white or other miso, or to taste

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin or brown sugar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cayenne

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

01 Trim the eggplant and cut it into 1-inch cubes. (If the eggplant are large, soft, or especially seedy, sprinkle the cubes with salt, put them in a colander, and let them sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably 60. Rinse, drain, and pat dry.)

02 Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Immerse the eggplant in the boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and set in a colander to cool. (You can refrigerate the eggplant, covered, for up to 24 hours at this point. Bring it back to room temperature before proceeding.)

03 Dry the eggplant with paper towels. Whisk together the miso, soy, mirin, and vinegar in a serving bowl. Thin with a tablespoon of water if necessary. Add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and cayenne, then toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve topped with the walnuts if you like.

Variations

Eggplant Salad with Miso and Tofu. All you need for dinner: Replace half of the eggplant with 1/2 pound raw or Baked Tofu cut into cubes, ideally the same size as the eggplant.

Eggplant Salad with Soy Vinaigrette. What to do if you don’t have miso: Make either the main recipe or the tofu variation, only instead of mixing the miso dressing, use 1/4 to 1/2 cup Soy Vinaigrette. Garnish with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds if you like.