Makes 1 quart
1-pound Japanese or small Italian eggplants, or 1 large (1¼ to 1½ pound) eggplant, stemmed
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1½ cups loosely packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
½ tablespoon chopped garlic
½ tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
If using Japanese eggplants, cut them in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 2-inch sections. If using small Italian eggplants, quarter them lengthwise, and then cut into 2-inch sections. If you can only find a large eggplant, cut off the straight-sided upper half of the eggplant, and cut it lengthwise into six pieces; cut each piece in half crosswise. Then set the bottom half of the eggplant on one end, and cut off the rounded, outside edges in 4½-inch thick slices, discarding the central core. Cut the other pieces in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 2 to 2½-inch sections.
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt on a paper-towel-lined-tray, and let stand 2 hours. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, pour the vinegar over the brown sugar, and let stand to soften. Wipe the salt off the eggplant with paper towels. Heat the oil in a 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. Working in two batches, cook the eggplant, turning, until lightly browned and softened, 3 to 4 minutes. (Do not overcook, or the eggplant will fall apart.) Drain on paper towels.
Remove the pan from the heat, and stir the garlic, ginger, and cayenne in the oil. Return the eggplant to the pan, and swirl the pan to coat the eggplant with the spices. Let stand off the heat 5 minutes. Then add the vinegar-sugar mixture, bring to a simmer, and cook until the syrup is very bubble and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not caramelized, about 15 minutes. Let stand until cooled completely to room temperature, spoon into a sterilized 1-quart jar, and refrigerate.
© Recipe Property of Suvir Saran