Spicy Eggplant (version IV)

1-1/2 pounds asian or other small eggplants (each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups water
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons japanese soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
1-1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
Garnish
julienne strips of peeled fresh gingerroot
chopped fresh cilantro leaves
radish sprouts

Cut eggplants crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds. In a 5-quart heavy kettle heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown cut sides of eggplant in 2 batches (adding remaining 2 tablespoons oil before second batch), turning eggplant occasionally with tongs.

In kettle combine eggplant and remaining ingredients. Simmer mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon carefully transfer eggplant to a bowl. Boil liquid remaining in kettle, skimming froth, until reduced to about 1/2 cup and add sauce to eggplant.

Serve eggplant warm or at room temperature with some sauce and garnished with gingerroot, cilantro, and sprouts.

Serves 6.



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