Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spicy Soba Noodle Salad With Pesto Eggplant Zucchinis and Chili Oil Dressing

Occasionally, California can get unpleasantly hot. This is what happening since last few days. And the weather forecast says, it would be stay unpleasantly boiling hot until the 4th of July. I really don't like that! I want to celebrate, I want to be able to bbq, grill some meat, or whatever that w suppose to do to celebrate our independence day. It's practically impossible for me to do anything when the weather reach beyond 80℉. Hot weather gives me bad mood, headache, just unpleasant feeling.  It won't allow me to do things I love doing; cooking, baking, gardening, you know what I mean. I, very often dream about living in Oregon, I suppose it won't get too hot over there, is it? At some point, I really really wish I live somewhere in England. But then, everybody I talked to say that it will be depressing to live in the country where you always have to carry an umbrella all the time. Well, I don't think I mind that. I love rain, very much. Anyway, for now, I am here stuck in hot California weather. Too hot to turn on the oven, so let just make something easy and delicious, shall we?

By the way, about the recipe, use the amount of ingredients as much or as little as you want it. There is no rule in making this really. Is not like making cakes or bread, cooking is really forgiving. If it is up to me, I'd put  way a lot more chili oil in my dressing, but I don't live alone, husband and son must be fed as well :)

Note for cooking the soba:

 I find out the soba get a little too soft to my taste when cook according to package direction. So, I always cook it 1 minute less then the cooking time suggested on the package.

Soba Noodle Salad With Spicy Pesto, Eggplant and Zucchinis

Recipe adapted from Nina Simonds's Asian Noodle

3/4 pound soba noodles

2 - 3 Japanese eggplants, cut lengthwise

2 - 3 small size zucchinis, cut lengthwise

2 Persian cucumber, sliced

4 (or more) small very ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered

4 (or more) small radishes, sliced

2 tbs (or more) canola oil

Chili Oil

1/4 cup canola oil, or peanut oil

1/4 cup sesame oil

2 tbs  crushed red pepper

3 clove of garlic, minced

1 tbs minced fresh ginger

2 tbs sake

2 tbs brown sugar


2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup sesame oil

Chili oil dressing

2 tbs chili oil

3 tbs soyu (Japanese soy sauce)

3 tbs mirin

1 tbs Japanese rice vinegar

1/2 tbs brown sugar

Make chili oil: heat oil over medium heat until very hot. Remove from the hear, then add the remaining ingredients. Cool completely, pour into a jar, store in the refrigerator up to a week.

In a medium size skillet, heat 2 tablespoon canola oil. Fry eggplants until soft, repeat with zucchinis, add more oil if necessary. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then cut into chunks. Transfer them  into  large bowl, along with sliced cucumber, tomatoes and radishes.

In a food processor add basil, garlic, mint leaves, pine nuts, and sesame oil. Process to make a smooth paste. Add this pesto into vegetable bowl above.

Combine all ingredients for chili oil dressing in a small bowl, mix until well blended. Set aside.

Prepare ice water bath (lots of ice cubes and water) in a large bowl.

Cook soba noodle according package direction (read my note above). Drain in a colander, immediately plunge the noodle into ice water bath, and let it sit for a minute or two. Pour it into colander, leave for a minute or two to drain excess water as much as possible, add the soba into vegetables. Drizzle the dressing on top, toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 

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