Turning Japanese: Miso blackened chicken, japanese aubergine and wild rice

I like Japanese food. Well, so far I like it, but I just don’t feel like I’ve done anything other than scratch the surface of it.  I mean I’ve been to a couple of very nice Japanese restaurants (admittedly in London not Tokyo…) and, frankly, could have qualified for an Itsu loyalty card when I worked at Canary Wharf – but I’m not sure that really qualifies as any sort of knowledge about a nation’s cuisine. 

So one of my gourmet goals has been to experiment a bit with Japanese ingredients – which is why I had a pack of white miso paste in my cupboard for about 3 months and no idea what to do with it. 

I know everyone had a Miso Moment a few years ago when the infamous Nobu black cod became the most talked about fish in London – but it largely passed me by. So, in a fit of Cupboard Clearance I decided to marinate some chicken thighs in the miso paste and serve them, blackened,  with asian-inspired aubergines and a mixture of wild, red and basmati rice. 

White miso paste is sweeter and milder than the salty red miso paste and, with hindsight, my griddling/blackening probably overpowered the mild miso flavour somewhat. So if I were going to do this again I think I might try roasting the chicken pieces instead.

Anyway, I’m certain this is desperately inauthentic but it was still really tasty and just a bit unusual. 

Miso blackened chicken, japanese aubergine and rice
A pack of chicken thighs (usually about 6 in a pack – enough for two) 
A pack of white miso paste (most supermarkets have this – its in a sort of plastic sachet thing) 
One aubergine 
Good glug of soy sauce 
Tablespoon of caster sugar 
One red chilli finely chopped
Handful of coriander chopped 
Enough rice for two (I used a mixture of brown basmati, red and wild rice – it’s sold in big packs at Waitrose) 
A little oil in which to fry the aubergine

Marinate the chicken thighs for as long as you can manage in the entire sachet of miso paste – I left mine overnight. Chop the aubergines into chunky pieces and brown in a little oil along with the chilli. When the aubergine is lightly browned slosh in some soy sauce, sprinkle over the sugar and the pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the aubergines. Turn the heat down low and cover with a disc of tinfoil and leave to cook down for about 20 minutes so the liquid is significantly reduced. 

Get your rice on – mine included wild rice which needs about 20 minutes so I put this on as soon as the aubergines were on the go. 

Put your griddle pan on the heat and allow to warm up for a good 15 minutes – so it is smoking hot. Open the doors and windows, point the fan at the smoke alarm – you know the drill…

When the griddle pan is hot enough place the miso covered chicken into the pan – remembering to do a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the pan remains high. Don’t be afraid to leave the chicken to form a blackened miso-y crust on each side before turning the pieces. I cooked my chicken pieces through on the griddle (about 10/15 mins) but I think you’d be better to blacken them a little and then finish them in the oven to ensure they stay juicy. 

When the aubergines are soft and the liquid very reduced, stir in a little fresh coriander. 

Pile the rice into the bottom of a bowl with a big spoonful of the aubergine stew and juices on top of the rice and then the blackened chicken pieces in top of that. 

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