Soba Noodle Salad
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
warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute in a small pan, 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 to drain.
cook the noodles in boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. (they should take 5 to 8 minutes to become tender but still al dente.) drain and rinse well under cold water. shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.
in a large 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.