Miso glazed aubergine (Nasu Dangaku) with grilled monkfish ‘sashimu’ with 15 minute pickle: a CardioKit recipe

May sound elaborate...but really is quick and easy

1_tbttvmu5zja6c0yqskfmiqThe aubergine really is the superstar of the show here and can easily be enjoyed as a vegetarian standalone dish — a Japanese classic — Nasu Dengaku. The combination of soft, melting, unctuous aubergine with slightly crisp skin and a rich sweet-salty glaze is truly moreish. Once tasted . . . addiction and cravings guaranteed.

Aubergines (or eggplant) are relatively high in soluble fibre and as per our previous posts, dietary intake is associated with lowering of ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol and glycaemic control. There appears to be an urban myth that propagates around the medical community in the UK that cholesterol can only be lowered by around 10% through diet and lifestyle. Rest assured (and assuming that you are not already a svelte vegan yoga triathlete, i.e. your lifestyle is not already perfect) you can make significant improvements above and beyond this through appropriate dietary change and exercise. As Cardiologists we are strong advocates of modern medicine but unless you have established cardiovascular disease, diabetes, familial hypercholesterolaemia or are clearly high risk for other reasons, an evidence-based diet and lifestyle change should be your first port of call prior to committing to tablets.

There has also been interest in the compound Nasunin contained in the skin of aubergines and although from our perspective this is only an early area of potential interest for more research, this anthocyanin conceptually mirrors the health interest in berry fruit pigments (which have been associated with prognostic benefit in cohort studies).

Anyway — back to the food — the Japanese theme runs through the rest of this delicious meal. Here at Cardiologist’s Kitchen we love sushi but are aware that for many people (including our parents’ generation) this is still a step too far. Here we have translated the bits we love about Sashimi into a beautiful piece of grilled monkfish tail. The clean, firm, meaty monkfish flavour is perfectly complimented with a wafer of our crisp 15-minute pickle and dripped in soy dressing.

Incidentally monkfish is a great fish especially if you think you don’t like fish. Discarded by UK fisherman or used as bait in the not to recent past because of its ugly and scary facial appearance, you will now find monkfish in all good fishmongers (with the head cut off). The tail meat is a pure milky-white, firm, sweet-tasting and meaty (nothing fishy about this fish). If you buy the whole tail there is a a large central bone which will add flavour to the grilled meat and is super easy to fillet afterwards. Just ask your fishmonger to remove the ‘membrane’ that surrounds the tail-meat as otherwise this will toughen and contract the meat during cooking.

This dish is a textural and flavour delight with the added health benefits as a bonus. Importantly and honestly you can have this on your plate with minimal preparation in around 30 minutes. If you are hungry then finish Japanese-style — with a small side bowl of steaming rice (sushi rice would be traditional but we would recommend basmati or nutty brown rice and you can now get pretty good straight from the microwave ready versions if in a hurry).

  • 1/2 large purple aubergine sliced lengthways per person
  • monkfish tail — fillet or cooked on the bone (membrane removed — ask your fishmonger)

Miso glaze (4 portions):

  • 2 tablespoon of sweet white Miso (can be found in most supermarkets)
  • 2 tablespoon of Mirin — sweetened Japanese rice wine (again in most supermarkets)
  • 2 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of runny honey
  • 1/2 large clove of garlic minced and equal ginger minced

15-minute pickle:

  • thinly sliced cucumber
  • one tablespoon white wine or cider vinegar
  • sprinkle of sugar
  • pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Soy dipping sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • the other 1/2 of the minced garlic and ginger from above
  • sliced chilli and spring onion (optional)
  • olive oil drizzle

  1. Preheat your grill (with fan if you have the option) to 180 degrees celsius
  2. While it’s heating up start with the pickle. Finely slice a cucumber (10 slices per person is generous) — a mandolin is ideal. Place the slices in a sealable sandwich bag or other container with a sprinkle of sugar, salt, pepper and the vinegar. Give it a good mix and leave to the side to cure.
  3. Slice your aubergine in half and using a small sharp knife make a criss-cross diamond pattern in the flesh being careful not to cut all the way through the skin. Drizzle with olive oil and place skin side down under the grill. Don’t put directly under the grill — its best if it’s a shelf down for a gentler heat.
  4. Now make your glaze. Mince a large clove of garlic and equal piece of ginger (you can use a fine grater) — reserve half for your dipping sauce. Add the rest to the Miso, soy, Mirin and honey in a small pan and heat gently until combined, dissolved and a soft brown colour. Put aside ready for the aubergine.
  5. Mix the remaining garlic and ginger with soy and a drizzle of olive oil to make your dipping sauce. We like to add finely sliced red chilli and spring onion.
  6. After 20 minutes check on your aubergine. You want the flesh to be soft and the skin edges a little crisp. Spoon a generous tablespoon of glaze and with the back of the spoon move around the cut edge so completely covered and soaked into the diamond pattern. Place back under the grill and start cooking your fish (see number 7 below). Check back on the aubergine after 5 minutes — add another tablespoon of glaze per portion. Remove after a further 5 minutes by which time is should be bubbling, dark, sweet and savoury. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  7. Heat a griddle pan until hot. Coat the monkfish in a little olive oil and season with black pepper only. Cook on a high heat aiming for slight caramelisation on the outside and sweet, moist fish in the middle. As it’s quite a dense fish a thick piece will need a good 5 minutes on each side. You can use a Rick Stein trick to check if the middle is cooked. Poke a skewer or knife tip into the thickest part of the fish for a couple of seconds and then touch your lip (if warm the fish is perfect, if cold needs longer and if hot over-cooked).
  8. The fish and aubergine should be cooked in around the same time. Remove the fish and allow to rest for 3 minutes or so while your aubergine cools. Slice the fish with a sharp knife using long continuous cuts at a slight angle — this will give clean cut edges rather than a ‘sawed’ edge with further adds to an appealing mouth feel when eating.
  9. The pickle should now be sweet and sour with a satisfyingly crisp texture — you will see that a lot of water will have come out of the cucumber. Serve all together with the fish, aubergine and dipping sauce.

A piece of fish and pickle dipped together into the sauce make a delicious mouth-full. The aubergine is best savoured in its own full glory. Combine with a small bowl of steaming rice, enjoy and feel good.

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