Nabe Shigi: Miso Sauteéd Pork and Eggplant
I love stir fries because they're quick and easy and you usually get plenty of protein and vegetables in one dish. It's the perfect weeknight meal when you have less than 30 minutes to get dinner on the table (thank you quick cook setting, rice cooker!). And because my mother happens to be a wonder woman who makes her own miso, I'm always looking for dishes that will let her miso shine. And trust me, I have been asking her to share her talent with us so I can feature a miso making post in the future. Nabe shigi (鍋しぎ) or shigiyaki (しぎ焼き) is the perfect hearty miso based stir fry. It takes about 10 minutes of prep work and 10 minutes of stove time and you have yourself a delicious dish.
The key to this dish is using Asian eggplants. Chinese or Japanese varieties are sweeter and softer than their Italian counterparts (Japanese eggplants are darker than Chinese eggplants used in this post and even sweeter). I love the creamy texture of these eggplants once they're fully cooked. There's no need to pre-salt the Asian varieties to extract any bitterness either so they're versatile and easy to use.
The tricky part is that the beautiful purple skin will brown when it's exposed to oxygen and heat simultaneously so you want to submerge the skin in water or oil when cooking. The easiest way to prevent this other than weighing the eggplants down in a deep fryer (I assume most chinese restaurants are doing this to get the bright purple treasures) is to half peel the skin in stripes and roll cut the eggplants so that most of the skin can face down into the pan. The flesh will also brown but as long as you don't have it sitting out for an extended period of time, it shouldn't be an issue.
Other than the eggplant, the prep work for this dish is fairly straightforward. Cut both the green pepper and pork belly into bite size pieces, peel and mince the ginger, and mix the miso/sake/sugar well in a small bowl.
Eggplant takes a while to cook and soaks up a lot of oil so you want to cook it separately and in advance. Heat up a large frying pan with oil and lay out the eggplants in one layer skin side down to prevent browning. Once the purple color is preserved, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Remove and drain the oil on paper towels and reserve for later.
At this point, there may not be any oil left in the pan. If that's the case, coat the pan with a thin layer of oil and fry up the ginger until aromatic. Add the pork and green peppers and sauté for 3 minutes or until the pork is cooked through. Add the eggplant back in with the miso mixture and stir to coat all the ingredients. Serve with a bowl of white rice and enjoy!
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