Soba noodles with aubergine and mango
This dish has become my mother’s ultimate cook-to-impress fare. And she is not the only one, as I have been informed by many readers. It is the refreshing nature of the cold buckwheat noodles, the sweet sharpness of the dressing and the muskiness of mango that make it so pleasing. Serve this as a substantial starter or a turn it into a light main course by adding some fried firm tofu.
- 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
- 220ml sunflower oil
- 2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
- 250g soba noodles
- 1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm dice or into 5mm thick strips
- 40g basil leaves, chopped (if you can get some use Thai basil, but much less of it)
- 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 the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the aubergine 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 5–8 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. You can now leave this aside for 1–2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.