Tender chunks of eggplant braised in a dark, smooth, pungent sauce are garnished with freshly roasted white sesame seeds to make a memorable vegetable accompaniment to Salt-Grilled Fish, steamed chicken or a fluffy omelet.
Remove the stem and peel the eggplant unless you are sure the skin will not be tough (Japanese miniature eggplants are very sweet with tender skins; if you can find them, just quarter them). Cut the eggplant into ½-inch cubes and sauté them in the oil over high heat, stirring, until translucent. Pour in the soup stock, lower the heat to barely maintain a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. If you have a dropped lid, use it; if not leave a regular lid askew, stirring occasionally.
In a small saucepan over low heat combine the bean paste, sugar and rice wine, stirring until smooth, with the sugar completely dissolved. Stir this thick sauce into the simmering eggplant and cook for 2 more minutes.
Dry roast the sesame seeds until they are golden. Transfer them to a suribachi and grind them coarsely, or turn them out on a dry cutting board and cut them (as you would mince parsley) to release their aroma. Fold half the sesame seeds into the eggplant mixture, before removing from the heat.
Enjoy the eggplants warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, garnish with the remaining sesame seeds.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.