Lili Boulanger, a prodigious musician and composer, demonstrates her talent in this evocative symphonic poem. The piece, albeit short, whisks you away on a journey through an unfamiliar land. Similarly, we chose to highlight a vegetable that seldom takes the center stage. Using Japanese flavors and techniques, the eggplant is transformed into a sweet and savory treat fit to accompany this exciting and intriguing piece.
First things first, preheat your oven’s broiler to high heat and prep all of your ingredients so that you are ready to begin cooking.
Begin by thoroughly washing your rice using a fine mesh strainer. Once the water is running mostly clear, add the washed rice to a small saucepan along with 1 ¼ cups of water and cover with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil over medium high heat (since the lid is on, keep an eye out for when steam starts to escape to know when the water is boiling) and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook the rice for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes is up, without peeking, turn off the heat and leave the rice to steam for an additional 10 minutes keeping the lid on. While this steaming process is happening mix together your rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Once the rice is steamed, you may now remove the lid and gently but thoroughly mix in the vinegar solution to season the rice. As the rice cools, it should become glossy and sticky. Keep the rice covered with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm until you are ready to serve.
During the rice cooking process, find some time to whisk together the white miso, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in a medium bowl. If you like a little heat, feel free to add some asian style hot sauce or red chili flakes into this mixture as well.
Score the flesh side of the eggplant pieces in a cross hatch pattern. While not entirely necessary, if you want to impress your friends, salt your sliced eggplant pieces and let them sit for about 10 minutes before you begin. They will sweat out some of their water and in turn become less bitter and a slightly more pleasant texture. Coat them completely in vegetable oil and place, cut side down, onto a rimmed baking sheet. Adjust the oven rack so that it is 4-6 inches from the heating element, and broil the eggplant for about 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Flip the pieces over and continue to cook for a further 3-5 minutes until almost completely tender. Remove from the heat and use a pastry brush or the back of a small spoon to cover the cut side of the eggplant pieces thoroughly with the miso glaze. Return to the broiler and cook for a final few minutes (3-5) until the glaze begins to caramelize and the eggplant is melt in your mouth tender.
All that is left to do is plate! I like to use a small bowl as a mold to fill with sticky rice and place onto the center of a large dinner plate. Then, carefully arrange your miso glazed eggplant pieces over the sticky rice, and garnish with thinly sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!