Strange-Flavor Eggplant

Eggplant:

1 to 1 1/2 pound eggplant
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Aromatics:

1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes (or to taste)
Sauce:

3 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon hot water

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Remove the leaves from the eggplant and prick in several places. Bake, turning once, until fork-tender, 20 – 40 minutes. Remove eggplant from oven and slit lengthwise to speed cooling.

While still warm, remove the stem end and peel, scraping off the pulp and reserving. Process the pulp in a food processor until nearly smooth.

Combine aromatics in a small bowl. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

In a large skillet over med-high heat, add oil and swirl to coat. Cook aromatics until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the sauce and simmer briefly (30 seconds?). Add eggplant puree to skillet and stir well to blend and heat through.

Remove from heat, taste and adjust chile flakes, sugar or vinegar to achieve a well-balanced flavor. Stir in sesame oil. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature.

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