How extraordinary noodles are, and oh! What a variety! Think Japanese noodles, Chinese Noodles, Italian Noodles (pasta), Indian noodles (lots of them using interesting flours), noodles from Eastern Europe, and I guess there are many more around the world. Soba noodles are Japanese, and they make delightful cold dishes as well as hot. In Summer, cold Soba noodle dishes are almost like salads.
It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one day per month where we publish recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely.
Ottolenghi has the occasional noodle dish, and our current focus on his books brought us to this recipe in his book Plenty. It brings together mango and charred eggplant in a way that makes it seem way out there, but is perfectly balanced. It is such a surprising combination of flavours and that makes this a memorable dish from the first bite – sweet from the mango and savoury from the eggplant. It is a beautiful noodle for hot summer nights or for a simple weeknight dinner any night of the year. The leftovers only get better in the refrigerator, so Yotham highly recommends making enough for lunch leftovers.
This recipe calls for a lot of oil in which to fry the eggplant (from 220 – 300 ml in different versions Yotham has printed). But the frying turns the eggplant soft and silky, and almost meaty, if a vegetarian can say that. Follow your heart, but I do recommend frying in the amount of oil that he suggests.
Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
`120ml rice vinegar
0.5 tspn salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ red chilli, finely chopped
1 tspn Chinese toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 lime, grated zest and juice
220 ml sunflower oil
2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
250g soba noodles
0.5 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large mango, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
20g Thai Basil, or 40g sweet basil, chopped
40g coriander, chopped
In a saucepan, gently heat the vinegar, sugar and salt, just until the sugar dissolves, for up to a minute. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil. Set aside to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the aubergine in three or four batches. Once golden-brown, transfer to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave to drain.
Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, for five to eight minutes – the noodles should retain a bite – then drain and rinse under cold water. Shake off the excess water and place on kitchen towel to dry.
In a mixing bowl, toss the noodles with the dressing, aubergine, onion, mango and half the herbs. You can leave it aside for an hour or two. When ready to serve, add the rest of the herbs, mix and pile on a plate or in a bowl.