Roasted eggplant + noodles with Chinese black vinegar dressing (gluten-free + vegan)


Roasted eggplant + noodles with Chinese black vinegar dressing (gluten-free + vegan)

I'll admit, I'm a total latecomer to the eggplant party. I wasn't until I started this blog in actual fact, that I really started to fall in love. For years I turned my nose up at them. It wasn't until I started cooking them in curries (like here and here) and roasting them (like here) that I really, truly began to appreciate their creamy goodness. There is one way I've always loved to eat eggplant though- Babaganosh, that stuff is crazy good. Full-stop.

Roasted eggplant + noodles with Chinese black vinegar dressing (gluten-free + vegan)
Roasted eggplant + noodles with chinese black vinegar dressing (gluten-free + vegan)

I don't usually bother salting my eggplants these days, I do however have two exceptions: Homegrown small ones, as they seem to always be bitter (it could be that we're doing something wrong during the growing phase?) and larger eggplants that have loads of little dark seeds. This is usually a sign they will need salting to help draw out that bitterness. 

While strolling around my local Asian grocers yesterday I spotted a bag of beautiful fresh round rice noodles. They always stock the rolls of fresh thin rice noodles which you then cut into shape, but seeing these thick round ones was a first for me. Naturally I bought some and I'm really hoping it's something that will be available from now on. Before changing our diets to gluten-free I used to live off udon noodles and it was with a lot of sadness that I finally gave up on them for good. Regular flat rice noodles are lovely don't get me wrong, but there's something about big fat noodles, noodles you can actually chew on, which gives me the most noodle joy. (There is such a thing right- noodle joy? I say yes).

I roasted up an eggplant and mixed up a quick little Chinese-inspired dressing to slather over the whole lot. A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, spring onion and chilli completed my noodle bowl experience and I can tell you there was much noodle joy being had in my house... for real.

Roasted eggplant + noodles with Chinese black vinegar dressing (gluten-free + vegan)
Roasted eggplant + noodles with Chinese black vinegar dressing (gluten-free + vegan)

Roasted eggplant + noodles with Chinese black vinegar dressing
I used some lovely fresh rice noodles from my local Asian grocer, these just need to be blanched in a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then refreshed under cold running water before serving. If you are using dried rice noodles, cook them following the instructions on the pack. The eggplant would also be lovely served with cooked jasmine rice. You can find Chinese black vinegar and shao hsing at Asian grocers, however regular white rice vinegar will also work in place of black and if you aren't able to track down gluten-free shao hsing, dry sherry can be used instead or mirin if that's what you have at hand. I use kikkoman gluten-free soy sauce.
Serves 2-ish

1 large eggplant, ends trimmed
olive oil, fine sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
cooked rice noodles (I used fresh ones, but dried are fine)
finely chopped spring onions (scallions), toasted sesame seeds + sliced chilli, to serve

Chinese Black vinegar dressing
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar *see headnotes
1 tablespoon shao hsing cooking wine or dry sherry *see headnotes
2 teaspoons unrefined raw sugar (or brown rice syrup)
2 teaspoons gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small clove garlic, minced

Cut the eggplant into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 3 wedges. Sprinkle each cut side with a little fine sea salt and set aside for 20-30 minutes to draw out the bitter juices. Turn your oven on to 200C/400F to preheat while the eggplant is doing it's thing. 

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to combine. Continue to stir every few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. 

Rinse eggplant slices, then pat dry with a clean tea-towel or paper towel. Brush each piece with a little olive oil and lay them on a oven tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning over once during cooking, until tender and golden brown on both sides. 

Serve wedges of eggplant on cooked rice noodles, scatter with sliced spring onions, sesame seeds and chilli and drizzle with as much dressing as you like.

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  • Reply
    February 20, 2014 at 3:18 am

    This noodle bowl is calling my name – eggplants are my absolute favorite! I love that you pair them with noodles and dressing seems really tempting! Love the recipe!

  • Reply
    Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things
    February 20, 2014 at 3:56 am

    How very yummy, Emma, not to mention timely! I just picked my first two home grown aubergines yesterday xo

  • Reply
    Sini | my blue and white kitchen
    February 20, 2014 at 8:21 am

    This looks so good! I love eggplants and am currently obsessed with noodles so I'll definitely make this dish soon.

  • Reply
    February 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Looks delicious! I thought the noodles were tapioca for a minute..I agree that a thicker noodle has a bit more bite which you definitely want sometimes. Also – I really feel like some baba ghanoush right now! In my opinion, the best dip you can make!!

  • Reply
    February 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

    There is definitely such a thing as noodle joy!

  • Reply
    london bakes
    February 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I felt similarly about eggplant/aubergine – I didn't think that it would be something that I'd really like but then one day I had a Spanishy dish of roasted egglpand with tomato and garlic and basil and I was hooked!

    And yes, I totally get what you mean about noodle-joy! I rely on 100% buckwheat noodles to get my fix but I will have a hunt for these proper chunky rice noodles too!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2014 at 6:52 am

      Ah you're lucky, it's really hard to come across 100% buckwheat noodles here. xx

  • Reply
    Katrina @ WVS
    February 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    This sounds so freaking good – and is so pretty!!

  • Reply
    February 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    i am same way when it comes to eggplants, I am starting to like them more and more now. this bowl looks delicious. I read that salting eggplant helps draw water out but i never paid attention. thanks for that note again,.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2014 at 6:51 am

      Ah yes, salting them really does make all the difference to bitter eggplants 🙂

  • Reply
    Cheri Savory Spoon
    February 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    gorgeous pics, love this dish!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 1:45 am

    Oh, this sounds so good! I have to say that I LOVE eggplant, especially steamed and served with some sort of flavorful sauce. I bet this roasted eggplant is amazing with the pungent dressing!

  • Reply
    Todd | HonestlyYUM
    February 21, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    This dish is pure class Emma. Very well done!!

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef ™
    February 25, 2014 at 2:38 am

    So delicious indeed Em! I have heaps of homegrown eggplants at the moment, so this dish is destined to be indeed- yummo!

  • Reply
    Christina Nee
    April 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Amazing! looks delicious 🙂

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Em ask your Chinese grocer if they can get you rice drop noodles; still fresh just much shorter. Elaine.

    • Reply
      April 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Hi Elaine, my local Asian grocer has them and we eat them often 🙂 Had them just a few nights ago! 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    July 19, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Has anyone found a gluten-free Chinese Black Vinegar?

    • Reply
      July 21, 2015 at 4:25 am

      I've found that Chinkiang and Pun shun brands don't contain wheat. However, I'd still check the ingredients list (making sure barley and/or wheat) are not listed in the ingredients.

    • Reply
      Daniel Lawton
      September 15, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      The noodles are a more serious issue here. But also, even if Chinkiang and Pun shun brands don't list wheat, it's still likely they do. You have to spend time in asia and hear the monthly food scandals before you realize, only US, European, and Japanese manufacturers make reasonable efforts to keep the ingredients list accurate.

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