1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
unseasoned rice vinegar
vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
Asian eggplant, 2 1/2 pounds, sliced lengthwise then cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces and scored
purple basil, for garnish (optional)
1. In a heatproof glass bowl, combine the water and sugar and microwave at high power for 10 seconds, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the grated ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and season with salt.
2. Set a large steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1/2 inch of water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Steam the eggplant in batches, cut side down, until just tender, about 4 minutes.
3. Heat a grill pan. Lightly brush the eggplant all over with vegetable oil. Grill over high heat until grill marks appear, about 30 seconds per side, then transfer to a serving platter. Spoon the ginger sauce over the eggplant. Garnish with the purple basil (if using) and serve at once.