With Halloween coming soon, I've started thinking about some fun party appetizers to use for my next spooky shindig. This week, when I was at my local farmers market, I came across these cute Thai eggplants. They sorta look like little green pumpkins, don't they? Perfect for Halloween hors devours.
Since miso, beef, and eggplant are ingredients in several classic Japanese recipes, I knew they'd play well together. I decided to stuff my eggplants with beef and top them with a miso-based sauce to make little eggplant "pumpkins". To bring out the orange hue in the eggplants' skin, I roasted them before stuffing. However, you can also blanch the eggplants if you want to preserve their natural green tone.
Miso Beef Stuffed Eggplant "Pumpkins"
1 paring knife
1 cutting board
1 frying pan
1 sheet pan
1 pastry brush
12 round Thai eggplants
1/2 lbs of thin-sliced, shabu-shabu style beef (at least 12 slices)
1 medium yellow onion
1 tbsp of red miso paste
2 tbsp of sugar
1 cup of bonito broth
1/2 cup of rice wine
1 tbsp of vegetable oil (preferably rice bran)
2 tsp of sesame seeds
Sea salt to taste
Carefully separate and roll each slice of beef into a tight bundle.
Clean and finely mince the onion.
Trim the stem of each eggplant to about 2 cm. Level out the base of the eggplant so it stands freely on its own without wobbling. Remove the cap and stem in one piece, then hollow out the eggplant with the teaspoon. Leave at least half a centimeter. Rub a little salt on the inside and let sit with an hour, then pour out any liquid. Discard the liquid. Finely mince the innards. Retain both the innards and the caps.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly brush the bottom and inside of each eggplant with vegetable oil and place on the sheet pan. Brush the cut end of each cap and place on the sheet pan. Roast the eggplants for 10-15 minutes until just soft. Set aside to cool.
Add the remainder of the vegetable oil to the frying pan. Over medium-high heat, brown the beef rolls. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
Drop the meat to medium. Add the sesame seeds and toast until fragrant, then add the onions and eggplant innards. Cook until caramelized and volume has been reduced by half. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
Dissolve the red miso in the bonito stock and mix until fully incorporated. Add the beef, any drippings, miso mixture, sugar, and rice wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Drop to medium heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced to a thick paste.
Spoon a little bit of the sauce into the bottom of each eggplant. Coil each beef roll into a pinwheel shape and gently insert one roll into each eggplant. Top with more sauce and the cap.
These Miso Beef Stuffed Eggplant "Pumpkins" are great at room temperature, and can easily be made several hours in advance. Please try them for your next Halloween party.
Makes 12 units.