Holding on to Summer Supper

Miso-glazed grilled egglant. Photo by Keri White

As someone who loves summer, I hang onto it for as long as I can. In our area, the warm weather lasts pretty far into September and October so, food-wise, that means a lot of grilling, keeping it light and using local, seasonal ingredients as much as possible.
This menu showcases precisely that.

The fish I used here is mahi-mahi, but any grill-friendly fish (salmon, halibut, grouper, snapper, etc.) would work just fine. The eggplant is a tad more involved, but since the marinade becomes a spectacular sauce when reduced, it does double duty.

We served this with a simple green salad strewn with some late-summer tomatoes and cucumbers and a few ears of grilled corn on the cob doused in salt, pepper, oil and cayenne.

For dessert? We opted for lime-spritzed watermelon slices, but vanilla ice cream with sliced fresh peaches or a blueberry tart would certainly end this meal nicely and would evoke the season.

See what I mean about holding onto summer?

Spice-Coated Mahi-Mahi
Serves 4

I used a jarred Tunisian coriander spice blend that I bought from a local vendor at a farmers market, but any spice blend that you like works here — Lowry’s, Jane’s Crazy Mixed-up Salt, Old Bay, Shichimi Togarashi, Chinese five-spice, curry powder, za’atar, etc. Just be sure to check the salt content — the blend I used did not contain salt, so I added it, but that is often not the case.

4 mahi-mahi fillets
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons your favorite spice blend
Salt to taste, if needed

In a shallow dish or pie plate that holds all the fillets in a single layer, mix the lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the fillets generously with the spice blend and salt, if using; they should be well coated.

On a hot grill, cook the fillets for about 3 minutes per side until done; do not overcook it or the fish will dry out. This guideline is based on ½- to ¾-inch-thick fillets and should be adjusted up or down per the thickness. Remove the fish from the grill, and serve immediately.

Miso-Glazed Grilled Eggplant
Serves 4

I adore eggplant — every single type. For this dish, I chose a variety from the farmers market, and one was better than the next. The leftovers were great the next day!

2 pounds eggplant
Kosher salt for draining

2 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar
½ cup water (or more if needed to coat all eggplant slices)

Slice the eggplant, skin on, into ¼-inch slices. Place the slices in a colander, and salt them well. Leave the colander in the sink, and allow the eggplant to “sweat” and drain for about 30 minutes.

While the eggplant drains, make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together and whisking them with a fork.

Rinse the eggplant, pat it dry and place it in a large zip-seal bag with the marinade. Shake it around to ensure that all slices are coated. Allow it to marinate at room temperature for about an hour. Reserve the marinade when you grill the eggplant.

Heat a grill to medium-hot, and cook the eggplant slices, about 4-5 minutes per side — you may wish to move them to an area with less intense heat in the latter portion of cooking to avoid charring or if additional cooking is needed, but a little char adds flavor and texture.

Remove the eggplant from the grill when done and place it in a shallow dish or a platter with a rim to capture the sauce.

Make the sauce: To reduce the marinade, heat it in a saucepan over medium-high heat and allow it to boil uncovered for about 6 minutes. It should be reduced by at least two-thirds and should be thickened to the texture of a sauce or gravy.

Pour this over the plated eggplant, garnish it with cilantro or parsley, if desired, and serve.


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