Apologies once again for the long silence! But rest assured, dear fellow spice-lovers, that there are good reasons behind it! I have been cooking a fair bit, but these days I'm testing out recipes from cookbooks and some of my favorite blogs rather than being very creative myself. One of the cookbooks I'd been dying to cook from is Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, which along with his Jerusalem (co-authored by Sami Tamimi) were gifted to me by Luis on my iPad. Plenty is an ode to vegetables, all kinds of wonderful vegetables, and the global dishes that make use of them (many of which are featured at the Ottolenghi restaurants in London). I'd had my eye on this soba noodle salad with eggplant and mango for the longest time. I mean how could I not, given this delicious combination of flavors (and it doesn't hurt that it's now mango season here in Thailand)! Soba noodles are Japanese noodles made from buckwheat. They are packed with nutrients, and for an added boost of protein I added some fried tofu to my salad (lightly sauteed or pan-fried would work well too). Make this on a Sunday and you'll have a big batch for lunches all week. It would also be great for your summer picnics and BBQs!
SOBA NOODLE SALAD WITH EGGPLANT, MANGO & TOFU
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar (I used brown)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 Thai bird's eye chili, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Zest and juice of 1 lime (2 if your limes are small)
1/4 - 1/2 cup sunflower soil (the original recipe calls for a whole cup which I didn't think necessary)
2 Italian eggplants, diced
8-9 ounces (225 - 250 grams) soba noodles (do not rinse them before use as some suggest!)
1 large ripe mango (but not too ripe!)
Large handful fresh Thai (or Italian) basil, chopped
Large handful fresh coriander, chopped
1 cup (or more) fried, pan-fried or lightly sauteed tofu cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Bird's eye or red spur chilies, seeded and chopped (for garnish)
1. In a small saucepan, mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt and warm until the sugar dissolves, just a minute or so. Remove from heat and add the garlic, chili and sesame oil. Stir well, cool and then stir in the lime zest and juice. Set aside.
2. In a large pan, warm the oil and fry the eggplant in batches. Place the fried eggplant on a large plate lined with paper towels to absorb the grease, and sprinkle liberally with salt.
3. While the eggplant is frying, cook the noodles in salted boiling water until al dente, which should take 6-8 minutes. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Shake off excess water.
4. In a large (very large!) mixing or salad bowl, combine the noodles, eggplant, mango, half of the herbs, tofu cubes, red onion and the dressing. Toss well to mix.
5. Just before serving, add the additional herbs and the chilies for garnish. Great at room temperature or cold.