On a recent trip up to Bainbridge Island, I found a gem of a book in the used section of Eagle Harbor Book Company. It is called Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen, written by Elizabeth Andoh. The recipes sounded so delicious that I simply couldn't resist. It contains a wealth of knowledge with fabulous explanations for many Japanese terms and ingredients in the front. Everything in the book looks wonderful, and this is the first recipe I've tried from it. I adapted it slightly to accommodate my pantry.
yield: 4 servings
4 japanese eggplants or 2 small globe eggplants
1 t vegetable oil
1/3 c dashi broth or water
1 t sake
1 t sugar
1/2 t ginger juice or grated pulp
1 T soy sauce
extra soy sauce and mirin as needed to balance the final dish
white poppy seeds or toasted sesame to garnish
Rinse eggplants and dry well. Trim the stems and cut each eggplant in half, lengthwise. With the cut surface to the board, make many fine, shallow, parallel, slits on the diagonal into the skin side of the eggplants.
In a skillet just large enough to hold the eggplant pieces in a single layer, heat the oil. Sear the eggplants, skin-side down, pressing them to ensure full contact with the pan. Turn the eggplants over, and sear for at least two minutes on the flesh side. Add the water or broth (you might need some extra if you are using large or globe eggplants), sugar, and sake. Cover with a lid that fits within the pan and place a brick or other weight on the lid.
Once the eggplants are tender, add the soy sauce and simmer for another minute. Add ginger and cook for another 30 seconds. The liquid should be almost gone at this point- creating a thick glaze. Season as desired with the mirin and soy sauce. The eggplant will seem very intense while it is hot, but will mellow considerably when it cools. Cut into slices and serve room temperature or chilled.