Monday, February 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks make hiyashi soba and tempura!


I love the days when the Daring Kitchen challenges are revealed to members. If I am home, I check frequently, waiting for the challenge to appear. So, last month, when I checked on the challenge for February, I had to laugh. It was for hiyashi soba, which is a cold buckwheat noodle dish from Japan, accompanied by tempura. What did I find so funny? Just that it was -30℃/-22℉ that day! I could not imagine making any kind of salad, so I put off the challenge. Fast forward to February 11th, and I realized I only had a few more days. Now, putting things off till the last minute is much more my style, so I was ready to go. First off, the soba noodles:
Now, not only was I pondering the challenge for 3 weeks, but I also had to wait for my sister-in-law to bring me my pasta machine. Of course I planned to make my own soba! I enjoy making pasta, though I rarely do so, and I wanted to try my hand at an eggless noodle made with gluten-free buckwheat flour. I also like making things much more difficult than they need to be. The dough was like an unforgiving block of rapidly drying cement, and it kept crumbling as I tried to knead and roll it. Finally, I had to add more water and knead it for about 10 minutes to try to activate the gluten in the small amount of all-purpose flour. When I couldn't take it any longer, I started thinning the sheets in the pasta machine and cutting it into noodles. Some sheets worked, and others crumbled to bits as they were going through the machine. What you can see above is what I got from 1¼ cups of flour. What you see below are the defective noodles. They were falling out of the pasta cutter like this. I dried them and will use them in soup one of these days.
The noodles were very fragile, both when fresh and dried. However, once they were cooked, I was able to rinse and agitate them in cold water and they did not break. I won't be making them again, though,  as I now think packaged soba noodles are worth looking for and worth every penny! For the 'salad', I steamed some soybean sprouts and snow peas. I also made paper-thin Japanese omelets and cut them into strips. This was probably my favourite part of the challenge, as I love anything to do with eggs. I served it with a spicy soy-based dipping sauce. All recipes can be found in the challenge PDF, at the end of the post.
Now, the tempura. I again used the challenge recipe for the batter, but it didn't stick that well to all the vegetables. It worked best on the shrimp, which were fried at 170℃/340℉, while the vegetables were fried at 160℃/320℉. If I ever make tempura again, I'll use the higher temperature for everything. Why 'if ever'? Well, because it was good enough that I ate too much and I feel a bit icky right now. And my place smells like a chip wagon. Luckily it's not too far below zero, so the windows are open!
L to R: shrimp, onion, sweet potato, snow peas, lotus root
It's funny, but I worked in Japan for about 6 months, and when I found out I had got the job, one of the things I was least excited about was the food. Japanese food just seemed so mild-mannered compared to the strong, spicy flavours I prefer. I had to eat my words when I was there, because in 6 months I didn't have a bad meal, and I was so impressed with the impeccable presentation and clean flavours. Oh, and the cakes! I really need to cook more Japanese food! Thanks so much to Lisa of Blueberry Girl for the challenge. Check out the Daring Kitchen homepage for a slideshow of the most beautiful soba and tempura you'll see outside of Japan.

Complete challenge PDF, with all recipes and links.

Blog-checking lines: 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

31 comments:

yummychunklet said...

Your noodles look delicious, and I love the tempura!

Renata said...

Mary, I have to say that you are a true DC! You made your own buckwheat noodles! I'm impressed! Everything looks so perfect and delicious! Hats off to you!

chef_d said...

Wow, I really love it that you made your own soba noodles! They look so pretty, I don't know if I'd have the patience to do it. Beautiful presentation! Great job!

Meg Johnston said...

Yum, I love tempura! I am too much of a wuss to try fry anything at home.

Come check out my competition!

http://for-goodness-cake.blogspot.com/2011/02/valentines-day-competition.html

sarah said...

Great stuff! I imagine that even the soup noodles will be delicious. But soba noodles are not that expensive, are they? Are there benefits in making your own, for example, for health? I am really impressed that you did.

Audax said...

WOW that photograph of the soba noodles is stunning (I love the colours) well done and the tempura looks perfect I adore lotus root and the tempura layer looks so thin and crisp. Great work on this challenge. I have to admit that your photography is very professional.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Jenn said...

Your soba noodles are gorgeous!!! Your tempura is lovely as well, a beautiful rendition of this month's challenge :)

Rhyleysgranny said...

It all looks lovely. You have great patience. You certainly knew what you were about. Presentation is gorgeous. I ate sushi for the first time last month so I would have been a bit lost with this.

FabFrugalFood said...

Beeeee-ootiful! Great Job!

Valerie said...

Why do we make things more difficult than they need to be? :D

This looks delicious and your presentaion is beautiful. I feel sorry for all those broken noodles. Soup is an excellent solution for that.

I love tempura! Yours looks spectacular! I'm sorry it made you a bit ill (that happens to me when dealing with cookie dough.)

Bravo on all accounts! I didn't know that you lived in Japan for a time!! How exciting.

Rochelle said...

The noodles look fantastic even if they were hard to work with. Your tempura looks nice and light too yum!

shelley c. said...

You never cease to amaze and impress me, Mary!! I love that you made your own noodles. And I love that you shared the true story of making them, too! :) I so want a pasta roller now... ahem... your completed dishes look SO good - the soba salad looks so fresh and delicious and that tempura - I would reach through the screen for a bite if I could!! Awesome job.

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

LOL! Beautiful job on the challenge Mary! We also tried (once) to make our own buckwheat noodles. Which is why we always buy them now ;-) Your plating is so marvelous!

Heather said...

I am seriously impressed that you made your own soba! Your challenge turned out beautifully. :)

Sarah said...

Your tempura looks so light and lovely and I can't believe you made your own soba. Great work on the challenge! I hope your home no longer smells like a chip wagon. LOL.

Ruth H. said...

I am so impressed with your patience and perseverence making those soba noodles. And your ingenuirty to keep the "failed" pasta crumbs for soup! I probably would have thrown them away in frustration...! Your final dishes look amazing - I want to try your tempura onions!! Great work, as always, and thank you so much for sharing!!

Anula said...

Great job! Love the photos :)
Home made soba noodles - you're really DARING!!!
Pozdrawiam! Anula.

A Canadian Foodie said...

What a great post, Mary. So thorough. I savoured each word. Good for you for making the soba. I wonder howcome it was so delicate when not cooked. Did you like the flavour of it?
At least you have tried it! Sometimes I know I will never be making "this" again, but am very glad I have done it once! The tempura looks yummy - and I never use a thermometer when doing this... but, will only do it in the summer out on the deck for the very reason you described... that oily smell in the house is quite off putting. My batter is so simple: equal amounts of rice flour and soda water. I love that recipe. It is exceedingly light and just enough. I would have been so daunted by this challenge. I salute you!
:)
Valerie

climbhighak said...

Thanks for the information on making the soba. I was thinking that it might be much more difficult to work with than AP flour.

Excellent work on the tempura too.

Suzler said...

Your food is always so beautiful. :) I LOVE that you made your own soba. So impressive!

Valérie said...

It is so, so cool that you made your own soba! Brava! And your tempura looks nice and crisp!

I didn't know you worked in Japan! It's funny, I adore spicy food and strong flavours too, but there's somethine about Japanese food that just wins me over every time.

ck said...

I love the look of your noodles and admire your skills in making them. Your dishes look beautiful and the photos are great. Like you, I loved the taste of it all, but hated the smell in my house that night. I cannot imagine -30C or eating cold noodle salad in -30!

Cakelaw said...

You made your own noodles? Now that's impressive. Great job.

Marcellina said...

Mary, thank you so much for your concern. We are safe and well after a very harrowing experience. No electricity for a week and then our computer was down so I have been out of action for a while. We are lucky though many have lost homes, businesses and crops and many more have no utilities.

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz said...

Wow you made your own soba, so impressed. I know what you mean though by I will never do this recipe again lol. But amazing you tried. That thin omelet looks great and so does your tempura. I had to bow out this month.

Cupcake said...

Hey Local foodie!!! Love soba noodles and tempura!
Cupcake
www.thefamily-table.blogspot.com

Beth said...

What a beautiful meal! Congratulations on completing the challenge.

RamblingTart said...

Good for you sticking with this challenge! My goodness, I had no idea soba noodles would be such a bugger. :-) I love them, but I will happily stick with purchasing them too. :-)

pigpigscorner said...

wow, your noodles look really fragile but your dish turned out great!

lifeisfull said...

I'm sure this is a summer dish in Japan. ;-) I admire your skills in putting this dish together, it looks terrific!

I’m also forwarding to you two awards – One Lovely Blog Award and Stylish Blogger Award. Please read my post for the details, thanks. :)

Lisa said...

I love that you made your own soba! as I was telling a friend, I'm not familiar with buckwheat flour, so i didn't want to chance it! your noodles are beautiful! So glad you had success with them. As for your tempura, wow, delicate, golden perfection clinging to the shrimp and veggies. As always, blown away by your skill and aesthetics. Oh, BTW, I'm drooling over the coconut tapioca pudding with caramelized bananas..wow!