I mentioned to you all that I've joined up with IHCC and now,well I decided for more cooking adventures and I joined The Daring Kitchen ! The badge for this cooking group has been on my page for a while,but folks now it's challenge time. Oh no Mr. Bill! The Daring Kitchen has two challenge groups: Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers.
What the heck was I thinking?....
So with my big-girl boots on I took on my first Daring Cooks challenge: Hiyahi Soba and Tempura.Hiya-what? Tempura..that means fried right? I knew my Asian-food lovin' husband would love this meal and it was going to be a challenge that was for sure.
The February 2011 Daring Cook's 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 . Well Lisa what a challenge and a fine meal we had last Saturday night.
First the Hiyashi Soba noodles:
The are buckwheat noodles or better known as soba noodles. They are a type of Japanese noodles that are made from buckwheat flour.We ate them cold with the sauce chilled.(I got it all confused forgive me.) Officially you can eat them chilled with the chilled dipping sauce on the side OR served warm with the noodles in a hot broth.(I will aim for that next go 'round,geez.) The noodles had a great wheat flavor and the sauce was so rich and savory,oh umami. Here are the ingredients and directions for the noodles:
Hiyashi Soba noodles:
-adapted from thedaringkitchen.com and other
sources mentioned above
2 quarts water + 1 cup cold water,separate
12 oz dried soba noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)
**(I bought mine at the Asian foods grocery store,that was so cool and a bit intimidating at the same time.A whole store of wonderful Asian food and I can't read a word on 99% of the packages. Thank heavens for the clerk who asked if I needed help.)**
1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a full boil in a large pot over high heat. Work with one bundle at a time. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time,stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil,add 1 cup cold water. Repeat this twice more. When the water returns to a full boil check 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 then aside allowing them to cool completely.
**This process didn't take that long and the broth takes even shorter amount of time to come together. Lisa mentioned that she can make this meal in under 30 minutes and well...I believe her. You are working with a ton of water,say like with spaghetti noodles so it takes no time for the water to return to a boil. You just have to set a rhythm when making the noodles and adding the cold water. Ok on to the sauce:
-adapted from japanesefood.about.com
2 cups Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (or basic vegetable stock ,thats what I used,I couldn't find the dashi)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 mirin (sweet rice wine-found at Asian grocery stores)
1. Put mirin in a saucepan 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.(this sauce taste so rich and savory,so dang good)
Common Hiyashi Soba Toppings:
ham,boiled chicken breasts,cucumber,boiled bean sprouts,tomatoes,green onions- We enjoyed the thin slices or cucumber and green onions, delish.
Now onto the Tempura: (yummy fried goodness and so light all at the same time,perfect)
These are the ingredients for the tempura batter.I ran out of vegetable oil so I had to fry the shrimp and vegetables in canola oil,it worked just fine.
Here's what we fried up into crispy,light,pale golden goodness: shrimp,portobello mushroom slices,bell pepper strips,sweet potato(peeled,thinly sliced and blanched) and carrot (peeled,thinly sliced diagonally).
Here goes it with the tempura and how it all worked:
-adapted from sources mentioned above
1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup iced water
1/2 cup plain,all purpose flour,plus extra for dredging
1/2 cup cornstarch (also known as cornflower)
1/2 tsp baking powder
oil,preferably vegetable oil
ice water bath,for the tempura batter to chill in(make sure this bowl is bigger than the bowl you make the batter in)
1. 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 a 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.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. For the vegetables the oil should be 320 degrees F;for the seafood it should be 340 degrees 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.I recommend using a thermometer,it helps greatly. The oil is ready when you drop a piece of batter in the oil,it sinks a little then immediately rises to the top.It's ready.
3. Start with the veggies,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 dip them in 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.
4. Place finished tempura on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items,frequently scooping out the excess bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.
5. Serve immediately for best flavor with this savory dipping sauce. What a challenge,it's worth every bit of the work and really truth be told it's not that much work. Find your rhythm when making all of this wonderful food and all will be well.