Tonight I decided to test my developing chef skills out. I invited some friends to dinner to be taste-testers for my next “Plenty” recipe: Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango (pg. 112). We had fun! My friends liked the dish and, hopefully, think I am quite the cook 😉
The recipe was simple enough. I knew they were coming over, so I had prepared the minced garlic and chile in advance, as well as slicing the mango and washing the eggplant. Then we hit the climbing gym and it was back to my place. I expected, from looking at the recipe beforehand, that, combined with my prep, the rest of the recipe would only take about 20 minutes. I was wrong…but not by much. It took closer to 30-40.
I made the dressing with the vinegar and the pre-diced garlic and chile. Then, while that was cooling, I began boiling the water for the soba noodles (available at the second grocery store I tried, and surprisingly decently priced!). Then I diced the eggplant and got it fryin’. I peeled my eggplant; Chef kept the skin on his. I am not sure if this makes any difference, but just pointing it out.
When everything was done, I tossed the dressing, eggplant, mango, and noodles all together and garnished with red onion, cilantro, and Thai basil (yes, I found Thai basil in Alaska!). We all tasted it and it was good! Very garlicky. I only put in 2 cloves, as the recipe called for, but I guess these cloves were particularly pungent. Another issue was that the mango was not the best. Not surprising – again, Alaska – but I bought it a few days in advance hoping it would ripen over time. It didn’t It was kind of crunchy still…The taste was good, but I think it would have been even better and cut the vinegar taste more if it had been sweeter. I suppose next time I could use a different fruit, or maybe even toss it in while sauteing the eggplant to soften it up a little.
Overall, the dish was good, but not amazing. I give it 3 stars. My friends were nice and said they thought it merited a 4. I think I would have given it 4 if I had not overdone the garlic and the mango was ripe…so maybe next time it will be even better! (Mine, L; Chef’s, R, pg. 113).