Ottolenghi's soba noodles with aubergine and mango
I'd openly admit that I feel very uncomfortable calling eggplants aubergine, having called them eggplants for some 26 years previously. But because that's what Ottolenghi calls his recipe, I'll stick with it!
In the spirit of saving money, I recently borrowed Ottolenghi's Plenty from my local library. I've discovered our library is an absolute treasure-trove of cookbooks and I'm planning on borrowing a whole bunch before I commit to buy. I've made quite a few recipes of Ottolenghi's now, and not only are they all perfect in terms of the recipe, the flavour they deliver is absolutely amazing. If you've never cooked anything of his, you really should as you'll be totally blown away by the taste.
Last night we made noodles with aubergine and mango. Soba noodles at our local Waitrose were pushing £4, and I'm not made of money so I just substituted vermicelli which we already had at home. If I was going to make this again I'd use a thicker noodle to help absorb the sauce, like an udon noodle.
This dish serves 6 as a starter and you can adapt it into a "meater" main by adding tofu. We made it for dinner - the vinegar sauce ended up being slightly overpowering for me after a while so I think it would be much better as a starter. Don't let that make you think this wasn't an amazing dinner though! We still have leftovers today so I think it could serve 3-4 as a main.
120ml rice vinegar
40g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
250g soba noodles/udon noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 5mm thick strips
40g basil leaves, chopped
40g coriander leaves, chopped
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
First make the dressing. In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
Heat up some sunflower oil on a grill pan and grill the aubergine cubes in two batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.
Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 5–8 minutes to become tender but still retaining a bite. Drain and rinse well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a tea towel.
In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, aubergine, half of the herbs and the onion. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.
Again, I was taking these pictures on my iPhone 4S with the help of the Camera+ app - I'm considering using this as my full-time food blogger camera because it's not only discrete but it takes pretty damn good pictures, I think!
Let me know what you think of the photos, and if you've made this recipe! It's wonderful and light with a big punch of tangy vinegar. You really need the mango in it as it is the perfect contrast to all that tang.