So, straight of the bat, we can say that this month's challenge was far less daunting, in terms of kitchen time, waiting around time and shopping time, than last month's! Was it less rewarding? Absolutely not. Was it not quite as successful? Yeah, a little bit.
Having eaten Soba Noodles a couple of times, but never cooked them ourselves it seemed logical to give this a go.
Nothing complicated here. Perhaps the hardest part is deciding which vegetables (or even which non-vegetables) you want to include in your dish. Seeing we had some seafood for our Tempura we stayed with just vegetables.
We made both sauces and they came together in the time it took to cook the noodles. We couldn't find dashi for the Mentsuyu but seeing a recipe was included to make our own that problem was easily solved.
The cooking of the noodles was something very new. Boil them up, then cool them down a bit, then boil them up again then cool... We wonder who figured out that to be the best way to cook Soba Noodles? It worked because we were very happy with the result and it wouldn't have been hard to just eat the noodles dipped in the sauces and skip the vegetables.
Tasty! We got the texture of the noodles right. The sauces worked well with the noodles and vegetables - we're not sure if that's because we took the noodles to the sauce rather than bringing the sauce to the noodles or just because they are two great sauces.
Nothing really complicated here either. Having oil bubbling away (happily?) on your stove might be a little frightening but you really don't need much more than common sense and a thermometer to keep everything (and everyone) safe.
We went with some seafood and some vegetables and it's a good thing that the instructions mentioned blanching the 'tougher' vegetables because we probably wouldn't have thought to do that on our own. A couple of times when we've ordered Tempura there has been a large leaf of some sort included. We thought that might be fun, but as we have no idea what it's called we didn't know what to hunt for. Anybody?
The batter is a simple enough recipe, and it's not too awkward keeping it in a bowl of ice. We thought it looked way thicker than the ones we've seen on Iron Chef but we went with it.
We went with using chop sticks for the coating part and being only comfortable with them and not experts we struggled a little getting everything in the oil in a timely fashion. It did keep our fingers mostly clean though!
It's kind of annoying that you can't really put all that much in the pot at once. It's fine cooking for ourselves in that we didn't mind cooking, eating, cooking, eating... but that doesn't work out quite as well if you are trying to impress your friends (or date?) and we really don't want to be doing that to ourselves all that often.
We weren't enamored with the batter! Everything cooked through properly, everything tasted pretty good, but the batter part just wasn't right. Certainly nowhere near like the treats we just had and have had many times before. We ended up with things more at the Fish & Chips end of the scale than the Tempura end. Oh well!
Our scallops were easily our favorite item with probably the sweet potato second.
Recipes & Destructions Instructions
The Soba Noodles was something brand new and we'll probably break it out again during the summer.
We recently had a go at a small batch of tempura shrimp as a filling from some Maki Rolls. Although this effort forced us to think about more interesting things to Tempura we think we got a better result the first time around. Perhaps it was beginner's luck, but we really think it was more to do with the batter. We will try again, but we'll be more focused on the consistency of the batter before we turn to dipping things in it.
We had a filling dinner and wouldn't hesitate to share the Soba Noodles with friends, but the Tempura we need a little bit more practice before serving to anyone but ourselves.
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.
Comments pre Blog Platform ChangeAudax Artifex responded:
WOW I always love visiting your blog your words are always so inspiring.
The leaves are called perilla or shiso leaves they are delicious. Sorry to hear about the tempura batter I didn't have a problem maybe try again. Great work on this challenge.
Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.
I wasn't a huge fan of the batter either, and I thought the oil temperature wasn't hot enough. That said, I really enjoyed the soba, though I'll never make the noodles from scratch again! Scallops sound like a wonderful tempura item--wish I had thought of that!
Shelley C responded:
Great job on the challenge! Sorry that you didn't feel the batter worked all that well for you, but it sounds like you did an awesome job. I always enjoy reading your posts - I always feel I get a true sense of what the cooking experience was like!!
Ruth H. responded:
I love the way you presnt your posts - they are both informative and entertaining at the same time! I am sorry the tempura batter wasn't what you had hoped for, but Iam truly impressed with how everything came together for you!
The big leaf is probably perilla, I used it for my tempura and it was the crunchiest of all, delicious!
Love your idea of scallops for tempura, I wonder how delicious it was!
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