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

Ingredients

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

Method

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.