Nasu no Shoga Ni（Ginger-Stewed Eggplants, Chilled）
Makes 4 portions
・4 Japanese eggplants, each about 3 ounces
・1 small knob fresh ginger root, about 1/2 ounce
・1 teaspoon vegetable oil
・1/3 cup Basic Sea Stock (Dashi separate recipe below)
・1 teaspoon sake (rice wine)
・1 scant teaspoon sugar
・1 scant tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
・drop usukuchi shoyu (light colored soy sauce)； optional
・drop mirin (syrupy rice wine)； optional
Rinse eggplants, pat them dry, and then trim away stems removing the ”petals” (calyx). Cut each eggplant in half, lengthwise. With the cut surface to the board, make many fine, shallow, parallel, slits on the diagonal into the skin side of the eggplants. Pat dry.
With a fruit knife, remove the peel from the knob of ginger root, reserving the peels. Grate the ginger root and squeeze it to extract the juice. You should have about 1/2 teaspoon； set this aside.
In a skillet just large enough to hold the eggplant pieces in a single layer, heat the oil. Saute the eggplants, skin-side down, pressing on them lightly to flatten and insure that all surfaces come in contact with the pan. Searing the skin side first will help keep the color vibrant.
Flip the pieces of eggplant over so that the skin side is facing up. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes before adding the stock, wine, sugar and ginger peels. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and stew, preferably with an otoshi-buta (dropped lid), for 2-3 minutes.
Add soy sauce and discard the ginger peels. Simmer for another minute. Add ginger juice to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds. Taste for seasonings: the eggplant will be fairly intense, but should be well balanced. Neither salty (soy sauce), nor sweet (sugar), nor spicy (ginger) flavors should be allowed to overpower the dish. If necessary, adjust with a few drops of mirin (to add sweetness) or light colored soy sauce (to enhance savory tones).
Let the eggplant cool in the pan； the flavors will meld, and the color will brighten as it cools. Serve at room temperature, or chill. When ready to serve, cut into chunks and stack, or arrange two halves, (scored) skin-side up, flat, on a plate.