In Japan, eggplant is a favorite summer food, as are cold soba (buckwheat) noodles. They are both thought to be cooling. In this Cold Soba with Spicy Eggplant Sauce dish, they are combined to make a lighter alternative to classic sesame noodles. If you want a more Chinese-y taste to your noodles, simply use any thin Chinese style wheat based noodle instead of soba.
- Either grill the whole eggplants over a medium flame, turning often with tongs, until the skin is black and charred, or cut them in half lengthwise and bake them, cut side down, on a non stick or well-oiled baking dish at 375 degrees. Grilling should take 20 to 25 minutes; baking 45 minutes to 1 hour. In either case, the eggplants are done when their inner flesh is soft, they are oozing with liquid, and they have collapsed slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- When cool enough to handle, either scoop the innards out of the baked eggplants, discarding the skins, or if you grilled them, scrape off the blackened skin. Place about one-third of the eggplant flesh in a food processor. Pull the remaining eggplant into long stringy pieces, then coarsely chop and place in a bowl.
- In the food processor with the eggplant, add the garlic, ginger, vinegar, tamari, brown sugar, peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, and cayenne. Buzz the mixture until smooth; taste, and adjust the seasoning.
- Transfer the eggplant puree to the bowl with the chopped eggplant and stir to mix. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend. Bring to room temperature and taste for flavor before serving.
- Toss the soba noodles with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and the cucumber slices.
- Stir the eggplant sauce well, and spoon it over the pasta. Sprinkle with the scallions, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds, if using. Serve.
- 2 medium large eggplants, skin on, pricked with a fork a few times
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons tamari or shoyu soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon natural roasted peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
- Pinch of cayenne
- 6 ounces Basic Buckwheat Soba
- 1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, cut diagonally into ⅓-inch slices
- 2 scallions, green parts included, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)