A couple of days later I snatched some aubergines up and made it at home. Served with cold soba noodles drizzled with dashi stock and peppered with Shichimi powder, this was a clean, light and refreshing meal. The steaming hot aubergine collapsed nicely, its caramelised topping flavouring it throughout. Nutty, springy soba noodles were an excellent texture contrast - I usually eat this dish with some rice, but this was a far lighter and more summery option.
Miso Aubergines with Soba Noodles
1 large aubergine
2 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1" ginger, grated
2 spring onions
150gr soba noodles
6 chestnut or fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 leaves of spring greens
Shichimi powder (you can buy this in most Asian supermarkets)
2" x 3" piece of konbu seaweed
A small handful of bonito flakes (these two can be replaced with a sachet of dashi powdered stock)
In a saucepan, add 200ml water and the piece of seaweed. Bring up to a simmer slowly and simmer on the most gentle bubble. Alternatively, just make up 200ml of dashi stock from powder.
Meanwhile, slice the aubergine in half lengthways and then take a small sliver from the outside curved end of the aubergine so that it sits flat. Score the flesh into a criss cross. In a large non stick frying pan, heat some oil and fry the aubergines skin side down for 7 minutes, then turn over and fry the flesh side for another 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together the ginger, miso and the soy sauce. Slather the scored side of the aubergine with the sauce and place under a medium grill.
Slice the greens and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the soba noodles first, then the spring greens. Simmer until tender, about 4 minutes, and plunge into cold water. Keep the noodles and greens under cold running water until all the starch has been washed out and they do not stick together.
Turn the seaweed water off and throw in the bonito flakes. Put the lid on and leave for 5 minutes, before straining. Add the mushrooms, sliced thinly, into the stock.
By now (about 15 minutes) the aubergine should be cooked through, the topping caramelised and slightly bubbling. If not, leave to cook a little longer. To serve, place half the noodles on one plate, half on the other. Slice the aubergine into 4 big pieces and place on the plate. Slice the spring onions thinly and scatter over the noodles with some Shichimi powder, and either drizzle the dashi stock over the noodles or serve in a small bowl to dip the noodles in. This also works well piled into a deep bowl, dashi poured over it; the leftover stock is deeply flavoured and very moreish.