For a change of pace Alex and I decided to have a vegetarian meal this evening. Since it was hot and muggy out, the first thing that came to mind was a cold soba noodle salad with snow peas, cucumbers, carrots and sesame oil. Then I decided that I would make some eggplant to go with it. And after our meal at Yakitori Totto a few weeks ago, the first thing that came to mind was glazing some eggplant with miso and then broiling it. We had both tofu and eggplant prepared that way and it was delicious. Paging through my new Madhur Jaffrey cookbook, World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, I found across her recipe for Eggplant Slices with White Miso and decided to modify it to suit us.
So when looking through the cabinets before making my meal I grabbed the udon on accident instead of the soba. And then I decided why not try it with udon instead? I've never had a cold udon noodle salad before, and I actually prefer the taste and texture of udon to soba. So we gave it a shot. And while the udon lacks the nuttiness of the soba, it makes a really nice change. Udon has a wonderful meaty texture and picks up the flavors of the sesame oil, etc. better than soba does. With the fresh sugar snap peas (which I bought instead of snow peas for another change), carrots, cucumber and scallions it was a perfect meal on such a humid late spring evening. It also made a really nice accompaniment to the eggplant slices. The miso paste is deeply savory, and gives the eggplant some great flavor. I think I might tweak the recipe some next time and try it with either sweet miso or dark miso, rather than regular white miso. I also might top it with some thinly sliced scallions for some freshness. It's a great base, but I think it can use some slight tweaks. So many options, so much time.
Recipe after the jump!
Eggplant Slices with White Miso
Adapted from World o the East Vegetarian Cooking
By Madhur Jaffrey
2 Asian eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch slices
5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp white miso
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, place eggplant slices in a single layer in the pan without crowding the pan. If necessary, you can cook the eggplant slices in two batches. Brown eggplant slices lightly on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. If the pan looks dry, add a little more vegetable oil. When all of the eggplant slices have been browned, place then in a single layer on a broiling pan.
In a small bowl, mix together miso paste and sesame oil. Spread miso mixture thinly on the top side of each eggplant slice. Broil eggplant slices until the miso starts to brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Remove eggplant from broiler and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Cold Sesame Udon
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
7 oz. dried udon noodles
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp oriental sesame oil
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 medium English cucumber, seeded and cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch thick slices
3 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
Cook noodles in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, about 8 1/2 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain noodles well, then transfer to large bowl. Add veg oil, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Toss noodles to coat thoroughly. Add all remaining ingredients into noodles. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Chill, covered, in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.