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Aubergine, Mango and Udon Noodle Salad

Serves 6
Takes 40 minutes to prepare, but leaving it to sit for 2 hours before serving makes it much tastier

This is a slightly unusual, but still rather gorgeous salad ; it’s a lovely balance between sweet and savoury, with some great chilli fire in the background. If you can't get hold of holy basil, it is now possible to grow lime basil, which has a really excellent flavour. We tend to make enough for four, as it makes an excellent lunch the next day

2 medium aubergines, cut into 1 cm dice
1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
60mls rice vinegar
60mls Mirin (Japanese rice wine)
1 tsp salt (ideally smoked salt)
½ fresh red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp walnut oil
3 kaffir lime leaves
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
250g Udon Noodles (we use the thicker ones)
10g holy basil, roughly chopped (optional)
40g coriander leaves, chopped
2 medium spring onion whites, finely sliced lengthways

  • Put the oils, vinegar, mirin, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and lime zest into a pan and warm on as low a heat as you can for 5 minutes. Set aside 
  • Heat some groundnut oil in a frying pan and sprinkle in a couple of pinches of salt. Then fry the aubergine cubes in three or four batches till golden brown. Turn out onto kitchen roll, and set aside 
  • Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the packet. Drain and rinse very well under the cold tap. Leave to drain in a colander for a few minutes 
  • In a mixing bowl, toss the noodles with the mango and aubergine cubes, the dressing, half of the coriander, and the spring onion. If you have the time, set it aside, at room temperature, for a couple of hours. When ready to serve, add the rest of the coriander and - if you're using it - the basil, pile into a serving bowl, and present it to your diners. They will love you forever