Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Daring Cooks February Challenge: Hiyashi Soba and Tempura

Hiyashi Soba

It's that time of the month again. 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.

I was rather skeptical going into this challenge. I've never eaten Hiyashi soba and had filed tempura under "leave this dish to the professionals." That's why Daring Kitchen is so great, it's always pushing my limits. Rosie and Nicole were my taste testers for the evening and I am happy to report that the outcome far exceeded our expectations. If you have never prepared Japanese food, these are the perfect dishes to get you started.

Recipes after the jump!

Hiyashi Soba
Recipes courtesy of Globetrotter Diaries and About.com-Japanese Food
Serves 4

Soba Noodles
2 quarts water + 1 cup cold water
12 oz dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (we easily found the noodles in Whole Foods)

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 or a basic vegetable stock (we used the vegetable stock)
1/3 cup soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)

1. Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and vegetable 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 spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons 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

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

Hiyashi Soba Toppings:
All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.
*Please feel free to use whatever toppings you'd like! We kept it very simple.

The noodles are eaten by sprinkling the desired garnishes into the dipping sauce and eating the noodles by first dipping them into the sauce.


Recipes courtesy of pink bites and itsy bitsy foodies
Serves 4

1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup iced water
½ cup plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
½ cup cornflour (also called cornstarch)
½ teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable oil for deep frying
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. We fried the following:
Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally

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.

We served everything with chicken teriyaki skewers, it seemed like the right thing to do.


  1. WWOWOWOWOW it all looks especially the chicken teriyaki skewers, but the tempura batter is so thin and crispy. Great job and it's great that you enjoyed the challenge so much.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Love the look of your tempura! I also enjoyed this chalenge a lot! :) Great job!
    Pozdrawiam! Anula.

  3. I am drooling over your teriyaki skewers! They look amazing!!

  4. Your Chicken Teriyaki Skewers looks divine!

  5. Thanks everyone! The teriyaki skewers were the easiest part of the dish. Just marinate, and grill!