i swear: this delectable noodle stir fry tastes better than the above photo suggests. like, way better. in fact, it was so delicious that i consciously forewent any attempt at a successful photo shoot in favor of getting to the dinner table quicker.
the recipe comes from yotam ottolenghi's most recent cookbook, plenty. one year ago, i made a resolution that i was only allowed to purchase a new cookbook once i'd made at least three recipes from my most recently acquired cookbook. well, with three recipes checked off from neelam batra's 1,000 indian recipes, i rushed to barnes and nobles to pick up my reserved copy of ottolenghi's newest work of genius. and i have to say that i have not been disappointed. i've made well over three recipes from it in the past few months and have about fifteen more bookmarked.
this particular recipe packs in a unique bunch of flavors. i'm generally not a huge fan of fruit in my main course, but a ripe mango does wonders here. it's a salty, sweet, tangy dish that works well as either a main or side. it also tastes just as good, if not better, the next day.
ottolenghi’s soba noodles with mango and eggplant
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup sunflower oil
2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 packet soba noodles
8 ounces pan-fried tofu, cut into tiny cubes
1 large ripe mango, diced
1 2/3 cup basil leaves, chopped (if you can get some use Thai basil, but much less of it)
2 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
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, chile and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
Heat up the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in three or four 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 to 8 minutes to become tender but still al dente. Drain and rise well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.
In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.