Julia's Miso Eggplant Rice Bowls

Rice bowls – in all their shapes and forms – are our favourite go-to dinner (with leftovers providing the best lunch the next day).

This one by Julia Busuttil Nishimura hits all the right notes, with sweet sticky miso eggplant, blanched spinach with soy and sesame, and perfectly fluffy rice.

Quick, tasty and oh-so-healthy (and vegan!) – this more-ish dish is our new mid-week favourite. Check out the recipe below.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Julia says, ‘A rice bowl is a reliable meal in our house!’ Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Served with blanched spinach lightly coated in soy and sesame. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

And deliciously sticky, sweet miso eggplant. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
18th of November 2022

A rice bowl is a reliable meal in our house. The toppings vary depending on what is in season or available to us. When summer begins, eggplant is often the hero. Here it’s cooked until tender then doused in a flavour filled miso sauce which bubbles with the eggplant for a few minutes to create a rich coating. I like to serve it on some short grain rice, but brown rice would be great too.

To accompany it, I’ve chosen some blanched spinach which is seasoned simply with soy and sesame plus plenty of spring onions and some more sesame seeds. You could add a soft boiled egg or tofu in too, to make it even more substantial.

In this recipe I’ve used white miso, which is a little milder and sweeter in flavour, but red miso is really great too. It will provide a deeper colour and richer flavour.

If spinach isn’t your thing, try a crunchy slaw instead! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

The best thing about rice bowls is having them for lunch the next day! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Julia’s Miso Eggplant Rice Bowls

(Serves 4)

1 kg eggplant (approximately two medium)
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 spring onions, finely sliced, plus more to serve
Steamed short grain rice, such as Koshikahari, to serve

Miso sauce

2 tbsp miso paste
4 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake
1 tbsp rice vinegar
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Blanched spinach

1 bunch english spinach
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp toasted white sesame seeds, plus extra to serve


Combine all of the ingredients for the miso sauce in a small bowl. Set aside

Trim the spinach then blanch for 1-2 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain and refresh in iced water. Squeeze any excess water and arrange onto a plate. Season with the soy sauce and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Set aside.

Cut the eggplant into 5 cm lengths, around 1.5cm thick. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a wok over a medium heat and cook the eggplant in batches, until tender, around 6-7 minutes, turning occasionally. You may need to use more oil as the eggplant cooks, so ensure to add more if needed. Return all of the eggplant back into the wok, increase the heat to medium-high and pour over the miso mixture. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until the eggplant is very tender and the miso sauce has thickened. Top with the spring onions.

Divide the rice amongst bowls, top with some of the eggplant, blanched spinach, some more spring onions and sesame seeds and serve.

What else I’m cooking…

Zucchini have arrived and I am loving making simple pasta dishes with them, maybe with a blob of ricotta and some mint. Shaved fresh in salads or finely sliced into rounds and turned into a frittata.

What else I’m eating…

The Oeuf Mayonnaise from Public Wine Shop in Fitzroy North! Everything on the menu is always so pleasing, but I am especially fond of this dish, lovingly draped with anchovies, it is a favourite.

Click here to download the recipe printout!

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