Exquisite Japanese Delicacy: Nasu Dengaku (Miso Aubergine) Recipe by Emiko Davies

In the realm of Japanese cuisine, there exists a dish that captures the essence of simplicity, elegance, and profound flavor – Nasu Dengaku, also known as Miso Aubergine. This traditional dish has been cherished for centuries, with its roots deeply embedded in Japanese culinary heritage. Today, we delve into the artistry behind this exquisite delicacy, exploring its history, ingredients, and the renowned recipe by Emiko Davies.

A Brief History

Nasu Dengaku traces its origins back to the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan. During this time, Buddhist temples played a significant role in shaping Japanese culinary culture. Nasu Dengaku, with its use of miso (fermented soybean paste), was a creation born out of the Buddhist vegetarian cuisine known as Shojin Ryori. This style of cooking emphasized simplicity and purity while maximizing flavor from plant-based ingredients.

The Ingredients

The beauty of Nasu Dengaku lies in its minimalistic yet harmonious combination of ingredients:

  1. Aubergines (Eggplants): Choose small to medium-sized aubergines with firm, glossy skin. Japanese eggplants, with their slender shape and tender texture, are often preferred for this dish.
  2. Miso Paste: The heart and soul of Nasu Dengaku, miso paste brings depth, complexity, and a distinctive umami flavor. While there are various types of miso available, white (shiro) or red (aka) miso are commonly used for this recipe.
  3. Sugar: A touch of sweetness balances the salty and savory notes of miso paste, creating a nuanced flavor profile.
  4. Mirin: A sweet rice wine used in Japanese cooking, mirin adds a delicate sweetness and a glossy finish to the dish.
  5. Soy Sauce: For depth of flavor and a hint of saltiness, soy sauce is a key component in the Nasu Dengaku glaze.
  6. Sesame Oil: A drizzle of sesame oil enhances the nutty aroma and adds richness to the dish.
  7. Garnishes (Optional): Toasted sesame seeds, finely chopped spring onions, or shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend) can be used to garnish the finished dish, adding visual appeal and additional layers of flavor.

Emiko Davies’ Recipe

Renowned food writer and cookbook author Emiko Davies offers her take on the classic Nasu Dengaku recipe, highlighting the simplicity and elegance of Japanese home cooking. Here’s her version:


  • Two small to medium-sized aubergines (Japanese eggplants)
  • Two tablespoons miso paste (white or red)
  • One tablespoon sugar
  • One tablespoon mirin
  • One tablespoon of soy sauce
  • One teaspoon of sesame oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Finely chopped spring onions for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the aubergines in half lengthwise and score the flesh in a crisscross pattern, being careful not to cut through the skin.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso paste, sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth.
  4. Place the aubergine halves on the prepared baking tray and cut side up. Brush the miso glaze generously over the scored flesh of each aubergine half.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the aubergines are tender and caramelized and the miso glaze is golden brown and bubbling.
  6. Once cooked, remove the Nasu Dengaku from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped spring onions, if desired.
  7. Serve the Nasu Dengaku warm as a side dish or appetizer alongside steamed rice and other Japanese favorites.

Nasu Dengaku, with its melt-in-your-mouth texture and irresistible umami flavor, epitomizes the art of Japanese cooking. Through the centuries, this dish has remained a beloved staple, cherished for its simplicity and depth of taste. Emiko Davies’ recipe offers a contemporary twist on this timeless classic, inviting home cooks to experience the magic of Nasu Dengaku in their kitchens. So gather your ingredients, embrace the spirit of Japanese culinary tradition, and savor every moment as you indulge in this exquisite delicacy.

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