This dish, I’ve had bookmarked for almost forever. Somehow, despite best attempts, I never seemed to have eggplant (aubergine) and mango in the house at the same time. We had a plumber visit us on the island recently and he gave us a mango (nice plumber – I hadn’t realised the season was already in full swing!). Fortuitously, I had an eggplant sitting in the fridge. We loved the flavour contrasts of the sweet mango and earthy eggplant. All up, a vegetarian salad of very tropical southeast Asian flavours. Yum. And really, anything with mango and chilli wins in my books!
Once made, it took me just as long to write this up. Life has been mad, though goodly so. We’ve closed the door on our city life and carted most of our worldly belongings over waters to the new place we call home. Such a relief to be done with dashing between two homes! Though there is still the great unpacking to be done. Despite the busy-ness, we’ve been loving exploring our island home, its secluded beaches and walking tracks, wildlife – including whale-watching from the yard (gloat!) – vistas and vendors – my favourite so far being the oyster farm. We’ve had family visiting too, and it’s been so nice to see babe have lots of cuddles with his grands and aunties and uncles, and for us all to share some lazy days chatting, walking and (for some of us) fishing. Not to mention having help around the house, a larger space with a lot more cleaning! I’m making friends too with the new kitchen, which is everything my old kitchen wasn’t: this one be huge and gleamingly new. It will take time to love this space, with its clean lines and cool surfaces, though I fell instantly for its sash windows and storage opportunities!
Just to note, I made a few substitutions to the original recipe. I was missing the rice wine vinegar and lime for the dressing, so gave this my own spin with a Japanese-style sesame dressing, inspired by this and this. I love the salty-sour-sweet sesame combo and have mentally noted this dressing to make again – next time, in greater quantity. It’d be a winner added to stir-fries and salads. Also, I didn’t have red onion, so subbed in chives, nor Thai basil. Ottolenghi’s original recipe (from the book, Plenty) suggests adding tofu to turn this into a substantial main meal, which I did. And I served it warm, but imagine it would be even more fabulous served chilled on a summer’s day/eve.
You can toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over a low-medium heat until golden brown – just keep an eye on them.
1 medium-sized eggplant (aubergine), diced
1 medium-sized mango, diced
about 180g firm tofu, diced
large handful each fresh coriander, Thai basil, chives
180g soba noodles
splash of olive oil
3 tbspn toasted sesame seeds
2.5 tbspn mirin
1.5 tbspn shoyu
1.5 tbspn raw sugar
1.5 tbspn lemon juice
2 tsp sesame oil
1 medium red chilli, finely diced
3 tbspn water (or more if needed)
Combine dressing ingredients except water in a small bowl. Taste and adjust as required before adding water to thin out.
Slug a bit of olive oil onto an oven tray and arrange eggplant and tofu atop, mixing to roughly coat with oil. Drizzle half of the dressing over the lot and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 30 minutes, or until browned.
Cook soba noodles as per packet directions.
Plunge noodles in cold water and drain, and wait for eggplant and tofu to cool if serving chilled. Divide noodles between bowls and add tofu and eggplant mix, mango and herbs. Spoon remaining dressing over.