A Japanese friend living in New York, Kyoko Schwartzman, showed me how to make this wonderful ratatouillelike dish. It combines two of my favorite summer vegetables, bell peppers and eggplants, and flavors them with mellow bean paste and sesame seeds. This dish goes well with grilled fish, meat, or poultry. It also makes a marvelous filling for an omelet!
In a clean, dry skillet, roast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat for 30–40 seconds until they color slightly or a few pop. Shake the pan to keep the seeds in motion. Transfer the seeds to a cutting board and mince them with a sharp knife, much as you would parsley. Set the seeds aside.
In a small bowl, combine the bean paste and syrupy rice wine, stirring to mix well. Set aside.
Peel the eggplant, then cut it lengthwise into
Add the stock or water, reducing the heat to low. Cover the skillet and let the vegetables simmer for 1 minute, undisturbed. Remove the cover, stir in the reserved bean-paste mixture, and simmer for yet 1 more minute. Sprinkle half the sesame seeds over the vegetable mixture and stir well to distribute. There should be a thick sauce enveloping the vegetables; if it appears thin and watery, raise the heat and reduce the liquid rapidly.
Serve hot, at room temperature, or even chilled. Garnish with the remaining sesame seeds just before serving.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.