Crispy Vegetable Tempura is perfectly complemented by healthy Hiyashi Soba, with two dipping sauces.
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
About a year ago I realized I love tempura, so I was really excited to get to try my hand at making it for this month’s challenge. We decided on an array of vegetables: broccoli, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes and green peppers. The batter was quite simple and even the frying was quick and easy once the oil got up to temperature. I did make quite a mess all over my stove, and I think my pot is still recovering from the burned oil, but I was really surprised at how easy this recipe was to put together.
The Hiyashi Soba was a light noodle dish, that was also incredibly easy. I ended up using rice noodles, because I couldn’t find the buckwheat noodles Lisa asked for. There were also a few of the ingredients for the sauces that I couldn’t find, so I made substitutes that hopefully kept a similar flavor. (I’ve adjusted the recipes below to reflect what I used.) I really liked the tangy combination of mustard seed and onions in the spicy sauce for the noodles. We ate the noodles with strips of imitation crab meat, green beans and carrots. Yum!
Thanks so much to Lisa for the challenge. I never would have thought to attempt tempura if not for her challenge this month!
Recipes courtesy of pink bites and itsy bitsy foodies
- 1 egg yolk from a large egg
- 1 cup (240 ml) iced water
- ½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
- ½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
- ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) 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)
Very cold vegetables and seafood of your choice ie:
- 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
- Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
- Onions sliced
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 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.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.
Recipes courtesy of Globetrotter Diaries and About.com-Japanese Food
- 2 quarts (2 L) water + 1 cup cold water, separate
- 12 oz (340 g) dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)
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 (480ml) Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (We were also allowed to use a basic vegetable stock)
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) mirin (sweet rice wine) (I used rice vinegar)
1. 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.
Spicy Dipping Sauce
- ¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each
1. Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.