Asian · pasta

Herbaceous Soba Noodles with Tender Eggplant and Mango

I’m two weeks into culinary school and I have learned SO much – starting with the discovery that all of my pans and pots are crap and need to be replaced immediately. If you want to get a yummy brown crust on any of your food, nonstick pans will get you nowhere. Oh, and if your nonstick pans are cheap (like mine absolutely are) they’re likely poisoning you. Sweet. Tip: if you do use nonstick pans, do not use metal cooking tools while cooking with the pan. Instead, using wood or silicone utensil will help prevent scraping the lining into your food.

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Luckily, I had a cast iron pan at my disposal for my first homework assignment. I adapted Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe from his gorgeous cookbook Plenty. The recipe doesn’t require fancy skills as long as you get your oil hot enough and aren’t afraid of a little hot oil splatter.

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The final product was a tender, chilled noodle dish packed with flavor. The refreshing, bright flavors would be perfect for a summer picnic or dinner party. A benefit of using soba noodles is that they’re made with buckwheat flour, which is a seed and contains more protein and fiber with less calories than wheat pastas. It can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to a week. It likely won’t be around that long because it is so delicious, but it’s an option.

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Herbaceous Soba Noodles with Tender Eggplant and Mango

Serves: 6 Prep time: 50min Cooking time: 1hr 50min

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup avocado oil
  • 2 medium eggplants, medium dice
  • 8 to 9 oz soba noodles
  • 1 large mango, 2” x ¼” thick strips
  • 1 ⅔ cup basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ½ red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds

Procedure

  1. Place small saucepan over low heat to gently warm vinegar, sugar and ½ tsp salt. Whisk until sugar has dissolved, about one 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in garlic, chili sauce and sesame oil. Once cooled, add lime zest and juice.
  2. Heat a heavy bottomed, large pan (I used cast iron), then add avocado oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Shallow-fry the eggplant in batches that do not overcrowd the pan. Oil should sizzle and bubble while cooking eggplant. Remove with slotted spoon once golden brown, and place in colander to drain. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ tsp salt.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add noodles. Cook per package instructions, typically 4-8 minutes until tender. Strain pasta and rinse under cold water to stop further cooking. Allow noodles to dry on dish towel.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with dressing, eggplant, mango, half of the herbs, onion and sesame seeds. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours, or in refrigerator for longer. When ready to serve, stir in remaining herbs.

Notes Pasta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days in an airtight container. This dish could easily be turned into a main course by adding shredded chicken or pan fried firm tofu.

* Some soba noodles are made with wheat and contain gluten. To make this recipe gluten free, ensure that the soba noodles are made from 100% buckwheat.

Allergens: peanuts, gluten*
Source:  Adapted from Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango by Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty.

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