I love noodle dishes, but I often have problems with the noodles clumping together when I try to serve them chilled, especially since I don’t like to douse them in oil. When a friend of mine brought noodles made from sweet potato starch over, I was hooked. Sweet potato noodles are traditionally used in the Korean dish Japchae, which is what my friend made. This dish actually has pretty similar flavor and is good cold or warm. I used the same sauce from our Quick Winter Soba Noodles, and grilled the eggplant while the noodles were cooking. I picked up my noodles at Wegman’s in the Asian food aisle, they were near the seaweed and not with the other rice and soba noodles. You can also check your local Asian Market, look for Korean sweet potato noodles or Korean vermicelli. This is a great dish to bring to a summer barbecue or party, and they’re gluten free.
The sauce is an easy mix of tamari (gluten free if necessary), sesame oil, maple syrup or honey, and chili oil or canola oil. If you have a few minutes chili oil is really easy to make. While the water is boiling heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper over low heat until chilies darken, but don’t burn. Strain and let cool. When the oil is cool whisk together all of the sauce ingredients. There will be some leftover chili oil, save in the refrigerator of freezer for later. The noodles take about 7 minutes to cook, and the eggplants only need to grill a few minutes per side. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise, then brush with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill the eggplants about 2 minutes per side until they are softened with some char from the grill, transfer to a plate or I love the epicurean cutting board. They are heatproof, so transferring hot food is not a problem. Brush the eggplants with toasted sesame oil, and when they’ve cooled a bit slice into bite size pieces.
When the noodles are cooked, drain and immediately rinse in cold water, swishing the noodles with tongs until they are cool. Let excess water drain out in a strainer. Transfer noodles to a large bowl, and use tongs to mix with sauce. Add eggplant and any garnish and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving. This dish is very customizable which is something else I love about it! Garnish with whatever’s in season, for our Week 5 CSA Shares we have scallions and basil, later in the season cilantro or Thai basil would be great. Toasted sesame seeds would be perfect, as well as toasted peanuts, additional crushed red pepper, or even fresh mint. Add more grilled or sautéed veggies if you have them!
Sesame Noodles with Grilled Eggplant
8 oz sweet potato starch noodles
2 Japanese eggplants
Canola oil, salt and pepper
Optional: Garnish like sliced scallions and fresh basil
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons canola oil or chili oil (see below)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons tamari
4 tablespoons honey
Make the sauce. For the chili oil heat 2 tablespoons canola oil and 2 tablespoons coconut oil over low heat until chilies darken but don’t burn. Strain and let cool. When the oil is cool, whisk together sauce ingredients.
Cook noodles. Follow package directions for cooking times. Strain and thoroughly rinse with cold water, drain.
Grill eggplant. Heat a grill or grill pan to high. Slice eggplants in half lengthwise, brush with canola, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant about 2 minutes per side until eggplant softens and gets some char from the grill. Transfer to a plate or cutting board and brush with sesame oil. Slice into bite size pieces.
Combine noodles and sauce in a large bowl. Gently stir in eggplant and any garnish. Serve warm or chilled.