Shichimi togarashi crumbed eggplant with udon noodles, herbs and coriander mayo

Japanese eggplant noodle bowls.
Japanese eggplant noodle bowls. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Vegetarian

A word to the wise, shichimi togarashi seasoning can vary greatly in heat so taste first and adjust how much you add to the crumb batter and dressing accordingly. It can help to show some restraint in the early stages – you can always add a healthy sprinkle to the finished dish.

Ingredients

Coriander mayonnaise

juice of 1½ limes

2 large egg yolks

300ml rice bran oil (or other flavourless oil)

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ cup coriander leaves, very finely chopped

Udon noodle salad

1 x 270g packet of udon noodles

⅓ cup rice vinegar

⅓ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup maple syrup

1 tbsp yuzu juice (optional; substitute lemon juice if unavailable)

½ tbsp shichimi togarashi* (or to taste)

Eggplant

1 eggplant (about 500g) cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 eggs

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

2 tbsp shichimi togarashi*

60ml (¼ cup) rice bran oil

​To serve

½ avocado per serve

micro coriander and micro purple shiso (optional)

coriander leaves, roughly chopped

extra shichimi togarashi* or chilli flakes

furikake seasoning (optional)

5g dried seaweed, finely sliced

Method

Make the mayonnaise by whisking the lime juice, egg yolks and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil, a few drops at a time, until mayonnaise is thick – this can take up to eight minutes. Stir through the crushed garlic and finely chopped coriander, season to taste then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (This makes more than you need but leftovers will keep in the fridge for a week.)

Cook the udon noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water for four minutes (or according to packet instructions). Drain and immediately refresh under cold water. Make the dressing by mixing the rice vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, yuzu (if using) and shichimi togarashi in a bowl. Add the noodles and toss to combine. Let the noodles sit in the dressing while you prepare the eggplant.

Whisk the eggs in a large shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix the panko crumbs and shichimi togarashi. Add the eggplant chunks to the egg mixture, a few at a time, tossing to coat, before rolling in the crumb mixture. Lay the cubes on a flat tray while you coat the remaining pieces.

Add the ricebran oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil's surface is shimmering, add the eggplant, a few pieces at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry, turning frequently with tongs, until the eggplant gives a little when pressed and the outside crumb coating is golden brown (about one to two minutes). Remove and place on paper towel while you cook the remaining eggplant.

To serve, transfer the udon noodles into bowls, shaking off some of the dressing. Top each with an avocado half and some eggplant cubes. Drizzle over a little of the coriander mayo and scatter with herbs, the extra shichimi togarashi or chilli, furikake, if using, and the finely sliced seaweed sheets.

*Explainer: What is Shichimi togarashi and why should you add it to your pantry?