The other day, I found a round Japanese eggplant at our Japanese grocery store. This was either Kamo-nasu 加茂茄子 or Mizu-nasu 水茄子 but it had no label. I asked the cashier and was told it was "Kamo-nasu". Kamo-nasu is often used in Kyoto cuisine 京都料理 and has a nice firm flesh. Dengaku 田楽 is the most common way to serve this vegetable. (While I am writing this I realized I never posted eggplant "dengaku". When I made this, I thought I must have already posted the usual miso-dengaku and decided to make this variation using pork meat).
It is miso flavored but I also added ground pork and white sesame paste. I garnished it with roasted white sesame seeds.
I served this one evening with pork belly "Kakuni" 豚の角煮 I made recently.
One Kamo-nasu (#1) (or you can use regular American eggplant), cut into four disks after removing the skin in an alternate pattern. I removed some of the flesh of the eggplant to make space for the stuffing (#2).
Light olive oil, as need, to bake the eggplant (or you could deep fry).
1/4 lb of ground pork (I used trimming from pork tenderloins and hand chopped)
1/4 tsp finely chopped ginger
1/4 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbs miso (I used white miso)
2 tbs mirin
2 tbs sake
1 tsp roasted white sesame paste "nerigoma" 練りゴマ.
1/2 tsp of dark roasted sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
Finely chopped flesh removed from the eggplant as discussed above.
1 tsp potato starch slurry (potato starch and sake in equal amount)
I decided to bake rather than either cook in a frying pan with oil or deep fry.
I lined the baking sheet with aluminum foil and coated with the olive oil.
I painted all the surfaces of the eggplant slices with the oil and baked at 350F for 30 minutes in the toaster oven (convection mode) (#3 and 4 above).
In a non-stick frying pan, I added the vegetable and sesame oil on low flame and sautéed the ginger and garlic until fragrant. I added the finely diced flesh of eggplant, pork and turned up the flame and cooked the meat until cooked and separated.
I first loosened the miso with sake and mirin by adding the liquid in increments while mixing in a separate container. I added the sugar and mixed well. (If the consistency was not liquid enough, add water or more sake).
I added the sauce into the cooked meat mixture and cooked until the liquid was reduced in half about 10 minutes.
I added the sesame paste and a splash of sesame oil and mixed well.
I tasted the stuffing (you can adjust sweetness by adding more sugar or mirin at this point).
I finished with the potato starch slurry to thicken the stuffing. Make sure to cook for about one minute before cutting off the flame.
I kept both the baked eggplant and the stuffing in the refrigerator until just before serving.
I layered the miso-pork stuffing on the top of the eggplant slices and placed in a preheated 350F toaster oven for 15 minutes or until warmed up completely.
I garnished with sesame seeds and served hot.
This was very good. The eggplant was soft and sweet which was well complemented by the ginger miso and pork flavors of the stuffing. The only problem was the skin of the eggplant--it was tough. I could probably leave the skin alone rather than making an alternate peeling pattern since we had to remove the skin to eat the eggplant anyway. This combination of the pork belly dish and the miso-pork stuffing dish went very well together.