No matter what time of year it is, I always enjoy working with seasonal vegetables and fruits. Not only is it very economical to work with in-season produce, but the produce itself also has such incredible flavor as it was picked at the most perfect time. This spicy teriyaki marinated eggplant was such a fun recipe. I really love working with eggplant, it sort of takes on whatever flavors you pair it with, but I don’t see it on many menus or at very many dinner parties.
Why is that? It seems to be a somewhat overlooked vegetable. We know of course from eggplant Parmesan that it does very well breaded and fried, it’s very good roasted, it works well as an emulsifier, and of course it is very good grilled! Who knew it had so many uses. I recently got a bunch of baby eggplants, which were so incredibly adorable, I considered for a second setting them out as a decoration instead. But we see that did not happen.
I see these adorable fairy tale eggplants a lot at our local farmers market, or even sometimes specialty stores. They can be somewhat hard to find, which makes them even more special. If you do have trouble finding these baby eggplants, feel free to substitute regular large eggplant, which is typically available year round in grocery stores. Since the eggplant is being marinated there is no need to salt the eggplant to remove moisture.
This is really good served with steamed rice, as the leftover marinade makes a really delicious sauce. But I have also served it over Lo Mein noodles and that was also very delicious, the marinade again making a really delicious sauce! If you’re in the mood for some extra veggies, this makes a really great stir fry, the grilled marinated eggplant gives a meaty texture that pairs well with other veggies!
What is Mirin?
Mirin is simply rice wine, not to be confused with rice vinegar. Mirin is made from fermented rice, it has a low alcohol content and a sweet flavor. It is generally golden in color, it is a staple in many Japanese sauces and glazes. The most common types of rice wine are Mirin and Sake.
What is Miso Paste?
Miso paste is made of fermented soybeans, and has a peanut butter type consistency. You can find many different types, shades and flavors of Miso paste. Color, texture, and flavor of Miso paste depends on fermentation time, and the amount of soybeans, salt, and koji used. Koji, is a nicer name for mold, not to worry it is a good molds that aids in fermentation, think of it as Japanese yeast.
What is Garlic Chili Paste?
Garlic Chili Paste made of fermented fava beans, red chilies, and garlic. Another staple in Japanese and Chinese cooking, a little will go a long way. The red chilies add a punch of heat!
Do I need to use all of these ingredients in my marinade?
Of course not! I understand the arsenal of ingredients in Japanese and Chinese cooking can get quite large, and I understand it may take some searching to find these ingredients. If you don’t want to invest in a collection of fermented condiments no worries. You can get a good base marinade with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, minced garlic, and minced ginger. I would still recommend the Mirin as it adds a little extra sweetness, if you do not have Mirin, add in a little more brown sugar to replace that. Keep in mind if you leave out the garlic chili paste, you will not have any spice, if you have any sriracha on hand you can always substitute that!
You’ll want to start by marinating the eggplant, in a large mixing bowl combine the soy sauce, mirin, garlic chili paste, rice wine vinegar, miso paste, brown sugar, minced garlic, and minced ginger. Whisk well to combine, the sugar should be dissolved. Add in the diced eggplant. Allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes, and hour at most. The eggplant should have started to absorb the marinade and begin to turn a darker color.
Heat your grill pan over medium-high heat, you want the pan to be very hot before adding your eggplant. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the eggplant out of the marinade and into the hot pan. Grill the eggplant pieces over medium-high heat until it is tender and slightly charred. As the eggplant cooks, spoon some of the remaining eggplant over the top, this will create a little steam and help cook the eggplant, while also slightly caramelizing it.
Once the eggplant is done, serve it on top of a bed of steamed white or brown rice. My favorite, easiest way to make steamed rice is in a 2 quart dutch oven, 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid, water or stock. Combine the rice and water in the dutch oven, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, once boiling reduce heat to low and cover. Allow the rice to simmer 15-18 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork! Spoon the remaining marinade over the top, garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, serve immediately.
Spicy Teriyaki Marinated Baby Eggplant
- Grill Pan
- 8-12 Baby eggplants, cleaned and diced into 1-inch cubes May substitute regular eggplant
- 1/2 cup Soy sauce
- 1/3 cup Mirin
- 1 tbsp Garlic chili paste
- 2 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Miso Paste
- 2 tbsp Brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
- Steamed white or brown rice, to serve along
- Black and white sesame seeds, for garnish
- Sliced green onion, for Garnish
- In a large mixing bowl combine the soy sauce, mirin, garlic chili paste, rice wine vinegar, miso paste, brown sugar, minced garlic, and ginger. Whisk to combine until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the diced baby eggplant, try to make sure all pieces are covered in the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, an hour at most.
- Heat your grill pan over medium-high heat, once warm, use a slotted spoon to spoon the eggplant out of the marinade and into the heated pan. Grill over medium-high heat until tender and charred, occasionally spooning the leftover marinade over the top of the eggplant while cooking.
- Once the eggplant has finished cooking serve on a bed of steamed rice, spoon and remaining marinade over the top and garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. This dish is best served immediately.