Grilled Eggplants with Miso "Barbecue" Sauce

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6 asian eggplants (about 4 ounces each)
1/3 cup white miso
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine) or cream sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon asian (dark) sesame oil, for brushing
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds or toasted regular sesame seeds

Preheat the grill to high. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, make shallow criss-crosses on the flesh and skin sides of each half eggplant. The cuts should be 1/8 inch deep and 1/8 inch apart. Combine the miso, sake, mirin, sugar, and mayonnaise in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Brush the eggplants on both sides with sesame oil. Arrange the eggplants, flesh side down, on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the eggplants with tongs and spread a generous spoonful of miso sauce over the flesh side of each. Continue grilling until the undersides are nicely browned and the flesh is soft, 6 to 8 minutes more. To test for doneness, gently squeeze the sides of the eggplant; they should be softly yielding. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and serve immediately.

Serves 6 as a side dish, 3 as a light entrée



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