Udon noodles with fried aubergine, pecan and miso
This is a rich and indulgent, umami-laden vegan dish from Yotam Ottolenghi. It takes quite a bit of making but we felt the result was well worth it. We’ve replaced walnuts with pecans due to an allergy, but feel free to use whichever you prefer or have in the cupboard.
Cut each spring onion into thin strips about 5 cm long. Place the spring onions and 10g of the ginger into a bowl of iced water and put in the fridge.
Use a potato peeler to peel off 4-5 strips of skin from the aubergines, from top to bottom, so you are left with a stripy pattern (NB we found this quite hard to do and it looked messy so we probably wouldn’t bother another time). Slice the aubergines into 2.5cm discs and then cut each disc into quarters. Pour 250ml of sunflower oil into a medium saucepan and place on a medium-high heat. Once, hot, add the aubergine in small batches and deep-fry for about 4 minutes, until they turn golden and cook through. Transfer to a colander to drain and sprinkle with a little salt.
Place the shallot and the tbsp. of sunflower oil in a sauté pan and sauté on a medium heat. Once the shallots soften, after about 2 minutes, add the remaining ginger and the garlic and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the walnuts and fried aubergine and set aside.
Whisk all the remaining ingredients, except the noodles and cucumber, in a bowl and add them to the pan with the walnuts and aubergines.
Cook the noodles as instructed on the packet. While you do this, heat up the sauce and aubergine, allowing some evaporation so the sauce thickens a little. Serve individual portions of hot noodles, topped with walnut sauce. Drain and pat dry the spring onion and ginger and sprinkle these on top along with the cucumber.
You’re really looking for anything that can cope with the intense, umami-rich flavours of this dish. Both red and white wines will work; either a soft, jammy appassimento red from southern Italy, or a white with a touch of sweetness, such as a honeyed pinot gris. An alternative would be to cut through the savoury richness of the dish with a refreshing beer.