This easy recipe for doenjang glazed eggplant is a wonderful first foray into Korean cooking.
For years now I’ve been contemplating Korean cuisine with equal parts excitement and trepidation. I’ve been going out to Korean restaurants, noting how vibrant the flavors and how nuanced the preparations, but I haven’t done very much at home.
Judy Joo is a Korean-American chef with a few restaurants and television shows to her name, and this is her first book, in which she shares 100+ recipes for Korean classics, plus a few East-meets-West creations.
It is the most un-intimidating book of Korean cooking I’ve seen in a while. The section on Korean staples alone is worth memorizing, and the recipes all feel very approachable. I look forward to tackling the noodles with black bean sauce (jjajangmyun), the roasted pork belly lettuce wraps (bossam), and the caramel doenjang ice cream, to name just a few.
But as a lover of all things eggplant, the first recipe I did try was for doenjang glazed aubergines, a Korean take on the Japanese classic nasu dengaku.
Instead of using miso paste, this recipe calls for the Korean equivalent, doenjang, a fermented soybean paste that is dark brown, richly flavored, and coarser than your average miso. (You should be able to find it at your local Asian market, and you can substitute red miso if that’s easier to find.)
The glaze is very quick to put together, and then you simply brush it onto halved and roasted eggplant, before broiling for a few minutes, until lightly caramelized.
Sprinkled with sesame and scallions, presented warm or at room temperature, it is a beautiful side to go with grilled chicken or lamb skewers. And served over steamed white rice, it makes for a fabulous vegan lunch, one you can take to the office or to the nearest park bench for a picnic date with yourself (because you’re totally missing out if you don’t have those).
PS: My favorite Korean spots in Paris are Korean supermarket K-Mart (6 rue Sainte-Anne in the 1st), and Korean restaurants Sobane (5 rue de la Tour d’Auvergne in the 9th, and 64 rue d’Hauteville in the 10th), Ssam (in the 10th), and L’Arbre de Sel (138 rue de Vaugirard in the 15th). I have been steeply disappointed by Mandoobar, but I wanted to love it so much I might give it another chance, and I’ve yet to try the famed Korean fried chicken at Hero.
PPS: If you read French, you have got to check this out!
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- 4 medium eggplants
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
- Sesame seeds, for serving
- Steamed rice, for serving
- 125 grams (4 1/2 ounces, about 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) doenjang (Korean soybean paste, available at Korean markets; substitute red miso)
- 50 grams (3 level tablespoons) honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use tamari)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 5 cloves garlic, germ removed, finely chopped
- Put the doenjang glaze ingredients (doenjang, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic) in a medium bowl, and stir well to combine. (This can be prepared a couple of days in advance; keep in an airtight container in the fridge.)
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F).
- Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise, and cut criss-cross slits in the flesh without cutting through to the skin. Brush the cut side with a little oil.
- Arrange the eggplants, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size, until the flesh is cooked through and very tender.
- Flip the eggplants so the flesh side faces up.
- Brush with the doenjang glaze (you won't need all of it, see note), and place under the broiler of the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, until the glaze starts to caramelize. (Watch closely so it doesn't burn.)
- Sprinkle with spring onions and sesame, and serve over steamed rice. (For eating with chopsticks or a fork, cut the eggplant into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears.)