ottolenghi's soba noodles with aubergine & mango
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ottolenghi's soba noodles with aubergine & mango

If you know me in real life - and my real life friends do profess to read this blog, although you would know it since no one but Leah leaves comments cough I'm just sayin' cough - you'll know that I have some fairly major life changes coming up in the next few weeks; changes that I haven't mentioned here on papillon mostly out of... fear, I suppose. Not of the things themselves, but fear that I would be jinxing them, or that something would fall through, and it would all be snatched away from me all over again. I've had reason to think so, if that's vaguely romantic and mysterious enough (I excel at being vaguely romantic and mysterious. No, really. I almost never drop noodles on my foot and then pick them off and eat them).

So now I'm going to be upfront, cause it looks like this shit's really happening.

I'm moving to Japan.

Exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark.

This isn't actually news to most people, but I've been holding on to the announcement regardless - you know; what if JET found out about my past life as a criminal mastermind? What if the Japanese Embassy took one look at me and said, 'NOT IN OUR COUNTRY, THANKS' (or, you know... the equivalent in Japanese)? What if I got through all the forms and interview procedures and then they couldn't find a place willing to take me on? (And, more seriously, what if there was another crisis like in March?)

But here are the details. I'm living in Nagasaki Prefecture. I have a flat of my own. I'm working as an Assistant English teacher in a senior high school. 
And I leave in three weeks.


Oh hey, and you're totally invited. See, papillon's coming with me, and although you might have to give me a bit of time to adjust and, you know, sort my whole life out, there are gonna be pictures and Japanese food and pretty much everything I'm up to. The noodles above? And the noodles I dropped on my foot? They are but a mere taster of the noodles that are to come.

And these are good noodles.

Soba Noodle Salad with Aubergine & Mango
adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi with some of the changes in method suggested here; original recipe is here.
120ml (1/2c.) rice vinegar
2-3 Tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ fresh red chilli, finely chopped - I used dried chilli flakes
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
olive oil, to drizzle
2 aubergines
250g (8oz) soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm dice or into 5mm thick strips
40g/a big handful of basil leaves, chopped 
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
handful of peanuts, to serve

First make the dressing. In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.

Slice the aubergines vertically in thick slices – about 5 per aubergine.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt and black pepper. Simmer Boston suggests you grill these for about 5 minutes per side, but I'm cooking with an Aga at the moment, so I cooked them for about half an hour at around 220C, until lightly charred and tender.  Remove from the grill/oven and cut into rough cubes with kitchen scissors.
Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 5–8 minutes to become tender but still retaining a bite. Drain well, then toss in a mixing bowl with the dressing, mango, aubergine, half of the basil and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1–2 hours... or you can intend to do so, but get bored of waiting for your mother to get home from work and so eat your own bowl in a frenzy, flinging noodles around the kitchen willy-nilly and eating them off the work surface. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and peanuts and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.


  1. Dont come back northerner..

  2. Ahaha, no worries Bex, you're shot of me now...

  3. Looks delicious! Best of luck to you in Japan, I look forward to reading about your adventures.

  4. hi! i've never commented before, but i'm seriously in love with your blog and your photos.

    that's really exciting that you're moving to japan - my uncle lives there and i did an exchange program in tokyo when i was younger.

    last semester i studied abroad in italy and the ironic thing is that i can no longer stomach pasta... at all... luckily, one kind of noodle still delights me: and that would be soba. cold soba is PERFECT for summertime. with some soba dipping sauce and scallions on top = delicious!

  5. This looks beautiful and delicious...so excited to try it! I have a friend who went to Japan through JET and has absolutely LOVED it. Have a great time!

  6. I was a JET for 3 years in Osaka (8 years ago but I'm still here - aargh). You'll have good and bad experiences and it will (hopefully!) be completely worth it. One warning: there is a chance that your students will not be like you think they will be. The rumour that Japanese students are well behaved is so not true! OK, 2 warnings: Japan is freaking hot in summer, and humid as hell. Do not bother bringing any long sleeves, get all your winter stuff shipped in October! Good luck and have fun

  7. veggieangie - thank you, I can't wait~!

    Natalie - thanks for coming out of lurkerdom (yeah... that's definitely a word)! I love knowing who's reading :D.

    Cate - I've spoken to a few past JETs or people who know people, and everyone's had really positive things to say which is a good sign... unless the people who've had bad experiences just don't talk about them, haha. Fingers crossed it's the former. Cheers!

    Emma - Ah, thanks for the advice! I don't have much teaching experience so I'm going with a pretty open mind as regards the students... my predecessor told me they're a nice lot but that's all the detail I have, haha. It's so reassuring to hear from people who have been before :D.

  8. Oh for ***'s sake, quit bragging!!! Lucky girl.

  9. I've only just discovered your blog (gorgeous photos, by the way), but I'm already very excited to read all about your adventures in Japan. My mom spent some of her childhood there and has had nothing but marvelous things to say about the experience. I know you're going to have a great time!

  10. What a lovely combination. I haven't really got a buy of mangoes this year. They tend to either be too hard or too tender. I should try this when I get back to Indonesia since they have variety of mangoes.

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  12. I love love love this recipe. I add a bit of red color to the color pallet. See my version of the recipe :) http://cuceesprouts.com/2013/08/soba-noodles/

  13. I want to start a blog to write about everything that happens at school and
    with friends…anonymously…any sugestions?.

    Try to check my blog: 휴게텔


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