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Nikumiso Dengaku (Stuffed Eggplant)

Nikumiso literally means “meat miso.” I’ve made a standard meatless eggplant dengaku before, but this version takes it from a tasty side to a hearty main.

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Eggplant is one of those vegetables that just doesn’t get the love it deserves. It makes for a good eggplant parmesan and baba ghanoush, but beyond that, it’s often a forgotten summer side that’s left to char on the grill while people go for the bell peppers and zucchini.

Over in Japan it’s a different story though and the humble eggplant is one of summer’s hottest vegetables. Nikumiso Dengaku is a delightfully flavorful dish that’s made by carving out eggplants to make bowls, and then stuffing them with nikumiso (literally: “meat miso”). I’ve done a more standard meatless take on eggplant dengaku before, but this version takes this dish from a tasty side to a hearty main.

As with any dengaku, the secret to the nutty, chocolate brown sauce is the hatcho miso. It’s made from soybeans and barley just like most miso, but a special cooking process and two years in a cedar cask gives it its dark color and incredible depth. Along with some ground pork and ginger, it makes for a divine sauce with deep earthy notes reminiscent of black beans and caramel.

[photo 2]

Nikumiso Dengaku (Stuffed Eggplant)


  • 2 medium-sized eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons hatcho miso (black miso)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 0.4 ounces (12 grams) ginger, minced
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 scallion, minced


  1. Trim the stems off the eggplants and then slice enough off the bottom of each eggplant off so that they can sit upright without falling over.
  2. Use a peeler to peel away alternating stripes in the skin. Slice the eggplants in half from side-to-side. Carve out some of the eggplant to make a bowl, but leave about 1 inch (2.5cm) of eggplant around the sides.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the hatcho miso, mirin, sake and sugar and mash together until they form a smooth sauce.
  4. Heat a pot with 2-3-inches of oil until it reaches 340 degrees F. Prepare a paper towel lined wire rack.
  5. Fry the eggplant, turning periodically for about 2-3 minutes or until a skewer easily passes through the bottom of each cup.
  6. Drain the eggplant cups upside-down, gently patting away any excess oil.
  7. Add the oil and ginger into a sauté pan, and fry until the ginger is fragrant. Add the pork and stir-fry, breaking up the clumps until the pork is cooked.
  8. Drain any excess oil from the pork and then add the miso sauce. Cook until the miso forms a shiny glaze coating each crumb of meat.
  9. Divide the pork between the 4 eggplant cups and top with the minced scallions.

This recipe was originally posted on PBS Food.

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