Depachika: Kamonasu Dengaku (Baked Eggplant with Miso) 賀茂なす田楽
Nasu Dengaku must be one of Japan’s all time greatest dishes!
We are starting a new series called Depachika to give another perspective into contemporary culinary culture in Japan. ‘Depa’ means department store and ‘chika’ means underground. So, food court in the basement floor of a department store. ‘Depachika’ is synonymous with excellent food in Japan and in addition to being delicious is big, big business.
We absolutely love nasu dengaku and I (Peko) was at Takashimaya Department Store food court and discovered this luxurious and extravagant dengaku from a very famous kaiseki restaurant that has a deli counter at Takashimaya.
This is a nice summer veggie dish that you might be able to make without too much trouble even if you don’t have access to a lot of authentic Japanese ingredients. If you can get miso paste and mirin, you’ve got dengaku mirin, the rest is easy. Some people now use a microwave oven instead of deep-frying. (We are purists and never would…but have.)
About Nasu Dengaku
Nasu dengaku is a dish with a long history and is often made with tofu, fu (wheat gluten) and sometimes other vegetables. Dengaku miso is the same miso paste that is used to make miso soup, however a good deal of mirin (sweet rice cooking wine), sake, sugar and sometimes egg yolk. Centuries ago farmers added flavor to their meager meals with dollop of sweetened miso paste on vegetable and tofu that they grilled over their hearth.
To make nasu dengaku an eggplant is split in half then deep-fried in oil for a short time. This does not completely cook the eggplant, the rest will be done under a direct flame. In an oven or Japanese style fish broiler, the eggplant half is cooked. When it is done through and through, dengaku miso is added on top and it is returned to the oven.
This nasu dengaku uses two types of miso; sweet (white, light) and salty (red, dark). Here the white miso is richly flavored with sesame and the ‘red’ miso is garnished with poppy seeds, for a contemporary touch. The eggplant used is Kyoto’s famed Kamo Nasu.
To add further luxury to the dish, vegetables and a shrimp are added for garnish. The vegetables include carrot, kabocha squash, satoimo (Japanese taro potato) and okra.
Price: 780 yen (makes about half a nice dinner for two)
Kamonasu Dengaku – detail