Grilled Eggplant with Orange-Sesame Miso Sauce

2 tablespoons barley miso
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sake (japanese rice wine)
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
4 japanese eggplants (about 1/4 pound each)

1. Prepare a hot charcoal fire.

2. Combine all ingredients except the eggplants in a small saucepan. Blend well with 2 tablespoons of water, and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Simmer for 3 minutes. Strain and reserve.

3. Leaving the stems on the eggplants, make 3 long incisions in each one, drawing your knife through the opposite end of the eggplant. fan each eggplant out, so that the 4 leaves are connected at the stem.

4. Brush the eggplants with a little miso, and grill 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until eggplant is tender. Remove from grill, place each eggplant on a plate, and serve at room temperature with miso sauce on the side.

Serves 4 as a first course

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