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From Elizabeth Andoh's classic "At Home With Japanese Cooking". Chunks of eggplant braised in a smooth, pungent sauce, garnished with toasted white sesame seeds, a good 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 1/2-inch cubes and saute them in the oil over high heat, stirring, until translucent. Pour in the dashi, 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 sake, stirring until smooth. Stir this sauce into the simmering eggplant and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Dry toast the sesame seeds in a skillet until they are golden. Transfer them to a suribachi (Japanese grinding mortar) 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 eggplant warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, garnish with the remaining sesame seeds.