The Yomiuri ShimbunAki-nasu no rikyuni
In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home
When the seasons change, it is especially important to eat well-balanced meals and take care of your health. Here, Naoyuki Yanagihara, vice president at Yanagihara Cooking School of Traditional Japanese Cuisine, describes how to prepare aki-nasu no rikyuni, or miso-glazed eggplant — a meal perfect for autumn.
Start by stir-frying some vegetables and konnyaku, then stew the ingredients in neri-miso, or miso mixed with seasoning. Using plenty of chopped sesame seeds adds a fragrant flavor that rouses the appetite.
Dishes that use sesame seeds often have rikyu as part of their name. This is said to be because 16th-century tea master Sen no Rikyu was fond of sesame seeds.The kyu character in Sen no Rikyu’s name means rest, but the kyu now used in rikyu dishes means eternal. A chef who wanted his business to succeed is said to have changed the character in the pursuit of “eternal” profits.
The vegetables and konnyaku are stir-fried with oil to provide a few extra calories for when your appetite is low. “I recommend eating dishes with sesame seeds if you are feeling lethargic,” Yanagihara said.
The eggplant is stir-fried first. “The color comes out when the heat penetrates the vegetable,” Yanagihara added.
Yanagihara made neri-miso using fragrant Sendai miso.
First, the miso is combined with sugar and half the mirin, and mixed in a pot over high heat to “caramelize the sugar and create the glossy appearance of the glaze,” Yanagihara said.
The rest of the mirin is added, and the contents of the pot are mixed again. The neri-miso and dashi broth are then added to the vegetables. When the miso fully dissolves and the miso-glazed eggplant pieces develop a glossy appearance, take the pot off the heat.
Finally, chop freshly roasted sesame seeds to bring out their aroma. Doing so on a cloth makes it easy to gather them up when you finish. “Even when using roasted sesame seeds from the store, roasting them again will bring out their aroma,” Yanagihara suggested.
The neri-miso and chopped sesame seeds go well with the soft, stewed eggplant, and the konnyaku is filling.
Add a bowl of rice and before you know it, you’ll be full.
Seasoned miso, or neri-miso is great with moro-kyu miso cucumber, as part of a meal or just as a snack.
Prepare the neri-miso following the same method used in the recipe for miso-glazed eggplant. Remove a heated pot from the stove, add well-pounded chicken breast strips and mix in the neri-miso.
Return the pot to the flame and heat until the chicken is cooked through. After cooling, place the mixture on cucumbers cut lengthwise in half and with the seeds removed. Top with shredded green onion.
Recipe for miso-glazed eggplant
Ingredients (Serves 2):
1 red bell pepper
4-centimeter-slice green onion
⅓ block white konnyaku
100cc dashi broth (dried bonito flakes, konbu seaweed)
40 grams of miso
3 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsp mirin
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
3 tbsp sesame oil
1. Cut the stems off the eggplants and cut into bite-sized pieces. Chop the zucchini into chunks. Cut the stem off the bell pepper, remove the seeds and cut into bite-sized pieces. Slice the konnyaku thinly, then cut diagonally. Boil for about a minute, then drain.
2. Put the sesame seeds in a pan and roast until golden brown. Place on a cloth and chop finely.
3. Make neri-miso by combining miso, sugar and half the mirin in a small pot and mixing thoroughly. On high heat add the rest of the mirin and mix again.
4. Add the sesame oil to a heated fry pan and stir-fry the eggplant, starting with the skin side down. Once the eggplant is coated with oil, add the zucchini, bell pepper and konnyaku. Mix in the sesame oil and stir-fry.
5. When the ingredients are cooked through, turn off the flame and add the dashi broth and neri-miso from step 3. Heat the ingredients in the pan until the miso glaze has a glossy appearance. Add the chopped sesame seeds from step 2 and briefly mix.
6. Place on a serving dish. Cut the green onion into 2-centimeter-long pieces and chop finely, then use as garnish.
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