Cibi is a Japanese favourite in the quiet backstreets of Collingwood in Melbourne’s north. The daytime diner is known for its honest, home-style approach to food, served in a warm and eclectic space with a distinctive sense of style.

A lot of the dishes offered there are based on recipes by owner Meg Tanaka’s grandmother, making Cibi a little slice of Tokyo.

“When I see a freshly picked eggplant this dish always springs to mind,” says Tanaka of her recipe for spicy miso eggplant. The dish appears in Cibi’s eponymous debut cookbook.

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“My grandmother used to cook it for lunch when I came home from school on Saturdays in summer, always using vegetables fresh from her garden … This is a great side dish to accompany meat or fish.”

Spicy Miso Eggplant
Serves 4


400g eggplant, cut into 5cm wedges
125ml olive oil
100g green capsicum, sliced into thin strips
Toasted white sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
100ml sweet chilli miso sauce

Sweet-chilli miso sauce (250ml)
2tbsp tablespoons olive oil
1tsp dried chilli flakes
150g red miso
3tbsp mirin
3tbsp sugar
2tbsp sake


To make the chilli oil, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium–high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chilli flakes. Stir well for a couple of minutes to infuse the chilli, then turn off the heat. In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.

Soak the eggplant for 10 to 15 minutes in salted water (1 pinch of salt to 1 litre of water). Drain well.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the eggplant, stir well and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the capsicum, stir well and fry for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sweet-chilli miso sauce, then turn off the heat.

Transfer everything to a serving plate and sprinkle the sesame seeds over.

This is an edited extract from Cibi by Meg and Zenta Tanaka published by
Hardie Grant Books. RRP $50.00. It’s available in stores nationally.