No, I did not make my own soba again. Once was definitely enough for that! However, since I seem to have made peace with potatoes recently, I thought I'd try my luck with eggplant. It's another food I find texturally challenging. As for the taste, there's not much I can say about it, as it doesn't seem to have much. This recipe caught my eye when I was browsing Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi, and I decided to make it before I changed my mind. Even if the eggplant is not a favourite, the soba, the mango and the tart dressing called my name. This is the point in the post where I talk about the changes I made--how predictable am I? This time, I grilled the eggplant instead of frying it and replaced the rice vinegar with lime juice. I plain forgot the garlic, so that doesn't really count as a change, does it?
And the verdict? This stuff is amazing! From the slightly chewy, grainy texture of the noodles to the perfectly ripe mango to the fresh herbs and lime, this was perfection itself. The eggplant? Whatever. It was there and it was fine, inoffensive but not crucial. Would I miss it if it wasn't there? Who knows, but I do know that I'll be eating a lot of this in the coming months.
Adapted from Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi
120 ml fresh lime juice
40 grams sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 red Thai bird chiles, finely minced
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
1 eggplant, sliced about 1 cm thick
250 grams soba noodles
2 ripe mangos, thinly sliced or diced
a handful each of basil and cilantro, chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced or diced
- For the dressing: combine the lime juice, sugar, salt, garlic, chile and sesame oil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- Brush the eggplant slices with oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill until browned and tender. Set aside to cool.
- Cook the soba in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender. Mine took about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well under cold running water, lifting the noodles with your hands to make sure all the starch is rinsed off. Drain, then place on a tea towel or paper towel to dry.
- Dice the cooled eggplant into 1 cm cubes. In a large salad bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients and then toss with the dressing. Set aside for an hour or two, or serve immediately.