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Monday, February 14, 2011

Hiyashi Soba and Vegetable Tempura

Interested in learning to cook Japanese food? Then I suggest watching some of the entertaining how-to videos made by Kumigar. She's an adorable, young Japanese woman, who posts self-produced clips of cooking demos on YouTube. Her enthusiasm for food, both cooking and eating, is quite apparent. It's reassuring to see that sort of honest and unabashed fervor in someone other than myself!

Along the way in preparing the recipes below, I learned a very helpful tip to prevent stove top spillovers. Pots boiling over are something for which I'm notorious, and it's even more of nuisance now that I have a flat-surfaced, glass-top stove. There's no burner pan to collect the run-off drainage. I learned to temper an overflowing boil with a cup of cold water (see cooking intructions for udon below for more details). Of course this takes careful attention on the pot (which is key to preventing all kitchen disasters in the first place).

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,, and

Hiyashi Soba
serves 4

Soba Noodles:

2 quarts water + 3 cups cold water, separate
12 oz dried soba noodles

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.

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 or a basic vegetable stock
1/3 cup shoyu soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin

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 green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons shoyu soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon English mustard powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste - roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each

Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, stir in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

serves 4

1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup iced water
½ cup 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

Very cold vegetables that I used include:

Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
Fingerling potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
Broccoli florets, blanched
Cauliflower florets, blanched
Fresh mushrooms
Onions sliced

Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring 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 have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F.

Dip the prepared vegetables 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.

Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.

1 comment:

Audax said...

WOW I love the look of your tempura the batter is so thin and crisp looking well done on this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.