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East End Recommends: Eggplant

Orange Vanilla Corn Cakes with Bacon Miso Eggplant

As the weather begins to cool, this is the perfect savory dish, full of flavor, and simple to prepare. For lunch or a side, it’s a rich, delicious way to eat your eggplant!
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Servings: 6
Cost: About $45
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Special Equipment: Nada!
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As a neat little brunch, or a family style side for a big dinner, it is always nice to have a new eggplant preparation. Left over corn cakes are freezer friendly too!

Eggplant:
DSC02287Bacon, Julienne                ½ pound
Small Nubia Eggplant     4
Garlic, sliced                      3 cloves
White Miso Paste              3 Tablespoons
Watercress                         2 bunches
Scallion, Julienne             ½ cup

DSC02402Lemon Corn Cakes:
Whole Milk                        8 ounces
Apple Cider Vinegar        1 Tablespoon
Eggs                                    2
Corn Meal                          1 Cup
A.P Flour                            ½ Cup
Orange Vanilla Extract    1 teaspoon
Baking Powder                  2 teaspoon
Salt                                       pinch

Method:
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Start your julienned bacon in a cold pan with a ½ cup of water. Render it slowly until it is crispy. You won’t get the same effect if you cook whole pieces and crumble. I used Hinckley’s Fancy Bacon from Local Roots. When bacon is crispy, remove pan from heat and add sliced garlic, (do not separate bacon from fat, this is all one bowl of greatness) when the garlic is fragrant, add the miso and whisk to combine. *The bacon should be swimming in yummyness. If it is dry, you can add coconut oil to the mix. Set aside to cool while you prep the cakes.

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Mix the milk and vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes. Beat the eggs with a fork, add orange vanilla and combine with milk mixture. (I use Mannix brand from Local Roots.) Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and then add to wet mix. Stir just until combined. Let sit until the top begins to have peaks and batter thickens, about 10 minutes. This step is hydrating our corn meal and resting our gluten. Place dry pan on low heat so it can pre-heat during this time also.

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Slice the eggplant in half, lengthwise, and make a “tic tac toe board” in the flesh. Do not cut through the skin. (This is to allow the miso mix to penetrate eggplant.) Place eggplant on a sheet tray covered in parchment, skin side down. Spoon some miso bacon mixture on top of each eggplant and place in 300-degree oven until eggplant is soft, about 15 minutes. You will have some left over bacon miso mix. You’re welcome! It will keep in the fridge for a bit, whisk it into some eggs for a lovely frittata sometime.

Your batter should be ready, and your pan warm. Add a bit of oil to your pan and use a tablespoon to pour batter into pan. Flip when you see bubbles. The color should be uniform across the pancake. If it is too dark before the bubbles form, your heat is too high. If it is speckled and uneven, you are too low. Continue to cook until all pancakes are ready. Should make about 27 little darlings. If you do not eat them all, freeze and reheat in the toaster oven. Use your watercress, or any greens, as a bed, and lay a few pancakes and warm eggplant on top. Squeeze of lemon will do nicely, and you are ready to eat.

*A recipe by Chef Jes Tantalo

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