This was supposed to be a practical, fridge clear-out before a trip dish, but this dinner ended up being absolutely divine. It was delicious enough as a dinner that I will probably serve it as an appetizer for some future dinner party.
It is not strictly vegetarian as I used dashi as the base, but you could make this with a good homemade vegetable stock instead, to which you had added a splash of soy sauce and a splash of sake or white wine. I used shabu shabu sauce and yuzu oil in this dish - they can be subbed out with tahini and olive oil with a splash of lemon juice as you may have those in your pantry.
1/2 large eggplant
1/2 white onion
1 cup dashi or vegetable stock
2 tsps sake or white wine
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
To finish - either a tablespoon of Shabu Shabu sauce or tahini and either a teaspoon of yuzu or lemon flavored olive oil, or a teaspoon of olive oil with the juice and zest from half a lemon.
Cut the eggplant as thinly as possible. If you have a mandoline slicer, now is the time to use it.
Place the eggplant slices in a small saucepan and add the dashi or stock to the pan. Cover and start to cook over low heat.
Thinly slice the onion as well. I also used the mandoline for this.
Add the olive oil to a small frying pan and heat over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion slices and some salt to the pan and lower the heat. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring at the halfway point, until the onions are starting to soften. Add half the sake and cook for an additional two minutes, until the sake has been absorbed into the onions. Stir well and add the rest of the sake. Cook for an additional two minutes. Stir again and check -- the onions should be soft and translucent. Raise the heat and cook another minute or so, until the onions have started to caramelize and color.
By this time the eggplant should be completely cooked through. Tip the eggplant slices and stock into a deep bowl. Use a spoon to bring all of the eggplant together in the center of the dish.
Top the eggplant with the caramelized onion and drizzle the tahini and oil over the stock.