Soba Noodles Salad with Roasted Eggplant

What are your favourite eggplant recipes? I really like eggplants, however I've realised recently, I don't cook with them very often. I assume the reason is that majority of recipes using eggplant are very similar. The most common eggplant recipes are either ratatouille or stuffed and baked eggplant. I'm not saying those are not tasty, but I like experimenting with new recipes and exploring new possibilities of using my favourite ingredients.

Since I had recently bought many eggplants at a local market, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try a fresh new recipe. I was googling for a while and found several tempting recipes. I'm a pasta maniac, and so my first thought led me to a pasta with eggplant. But it looked too boring at that moment.

Then I suddenly got an idea! Eggplant is widely used in Asian cuisines. I love Asian cuisines! Especially Thai cuisine is on top of my favourite cuisine list at the moment. However, I have recently fell in love with soba noodles. Soba noodles and eggplant sounded like a harmonic and perfect combo.

I started new search for soba noodle and eggplant recipes. I found only a few recipes, but it was enough for me. I rarely follow a recipe exactly. I prefer to read several recipes and combine them into my own one. That's exactly what I did this time. I loved the result.

Soba noodles salad with roasted eggplant

Serves 1

1 medium eggplant, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 bundle of soba noodles

2 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp peanut oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp clear rice wine
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Place the diced eggplant in a bowl, toss with salt and leave to stand for 15-20 minutes to leach out water and bitterness before roasting. Rinse shortly under cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towel.

2. Preheat the oven to 170C. Put the eggplant on a baking sheet and toss with some sesame oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Take the baking sheet out of the oven after 15 minutes and push around the eggplant so that they bake evenly.

3. While the eggplant is baking, heat the sesame seeds in a wide frying pan over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. Remove them when they darken and become fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, and let them cool.

4. Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. Once the noodles are cooked, rinse them under cold water and drain well. Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with 1 tsp of oil to prevent noodles from sticking.

5. With a knife, mash the garlic and salt into a paste. In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste, ginger, soya sauce, sugar and rice wine and whisk until blended.

6. Add the roasted eggplant to the bowl with noodles, combine with the dressing and toasted sesame seeds. Toss well and garnish with chopped cilantro.