Monday, February 14, 2011

DARING COOKS CHALLENGE: SOBA NOODLES & TEMPURA

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com

HIYASHI SOBA

Soba noodles:
2 quarts water + 1 cup cold water (2 times), separate 
12 oz dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)

Cooking the noodles:
1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.

2. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.

Mentsuyu - Traditional dipping sauce:

2 cups Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores) Or a basic vegetable stock. [I used veg stock]
1/3 cup soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce [Tamari is the best]
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)

Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Soba Noodles Topping:
[I used Cucumber, tomatoes and baby corn]
All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.
Respect Japanese culture and keep topping very simple.

TEMPURA

1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup iced water
½ cup plain (all purpose) flour,
plus extra for dredging
½ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
oil,
for deep frying preferably vegetable
ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

Vegtables used: [I bolded what I used]
Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
Green beans, trimmed
Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
Assorted fresh mushrooms [shitaki]
Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
Onions sliced

Vegetables prepared for dredging and frying
  Tomatoesand Cucumbers were for the soba noodles
Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

Vegetables dredged in flour, preparing for tempura batter and deep frying.
Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F; for seafood it should be 340°F. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.

Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.

Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.

Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.
I'm working on the tempura, using what little counter space military housing gives us.
I'm a very mess cook.

4 comments:

Audax said...

WOW your tempura and noodles look perfect and I wish I had that much counter space in my kitchen LOL LOL love that last photo so cute. I adore your tempura layer looks so thin and crispy.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Ruth H. said...

Your soba salad had my 21 month old daughter pointing and smiling "Baby!" (Baby corn...) If yougot her endorsement that quickly, you totally have mine! Great work in your small kitchen. Your tempura looks perfect!! Thank you for sharing!

Maranda said...

Looks great! You are adorable in your kitchen! Great job on the challenge!

Renata said...

I don't think you're messy at all! Congratulations on your successfully accomplished challenge. It looks delicious!

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