I thought it was winter, with the cold mornings and wet streets, except yesterday I shed my tights and walked about in lower Manhattan (in search of chocolates) with bare arms. Hot weather, we could almost say. Which brings me to cold meals, salads of various sorts, cold rice, cold noodles. The dish I discovered recently has eggplant and mango. The colors are vibrant, the flavor is on the sweet side, and the consistency is a combination of eggplant & mango moistness and the crispness of red onions & fresh herbs. I love this recipe because it achieves a delicate balance between fresh and fried, it is fancy enough for guests, comforting on a warm day, and can be prepared in advance.
 
Make sure to abundantly salt the eggplant, so as to counterbalance the sweetness of the sugary rice vinegar dressing.
 

Soba noodles with eggplant and mango

 

 
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
 
Serves 4
 
½ cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar (I put 2 ½ tbsp)
½ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh chile, finely chopped
1 generous tsp toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of one lime
1 cup of sunflower oil for frying the eggplant
2 eggplants, cut into cubes
8 to 9 oz soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into small squares
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
 
In a saucepan, gently warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the garlic, chile, and sesame oil. Let cool and then add the lime zest and juice.
 
Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in a few batches. Once golden brown, remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and drain.
 
Cook the noodles in very salty boiling water for about 5-8 minutes, until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. Dry on a dishtowel.
 
In a mixing bowl, toss the noodles with the dressing, the mango, the eggplant, half the herbs, and the onion. You can set aside for an hour or two. When serving, add the rest of the herbs and pile on a plate or a shallow bowl.
 
 

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