Helpful tips and a video to learn how to make a delicious Japanese meal with fluffy, perfectly crispy shrimp and vegetable tempura.
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Japanese is one of the cuisines I love most. The subtle flavors, the delicately balanced seasoning, the use of ingredients I’m not familiar with, the intricate presentations are just some of the many reasons why I’m head over heels for Japanese food. This month’s Daring Cooks challenge suited my passion to a T: we were asked to make Hiyashi Soba and Homemade Tempura. Tempura I knew very well (but never tried to make it at home before) but Hiyashi Soba? I had served soba noodles in soups before but I didn’t know it’s also served cold as a beautiful and tasty noodle salad to refresh hot summer days.
Now, it’s far from being summer over here right now (there’s a snowstorm raging outside as I’m writing this), but I thought combining tempura with the cold salad would make up a great winter meal. Because it’s so easy to do and we love it so much, I added a piping hot miso soup just to make sure we would stay warm.
The Hiyashi Soba salad is quick and easy to do: I prepared everything in advance and kept my ingredients in the fridge while I concentrated on the Tempura part of the challenge. I’m not afraid of frying foods because I’m always very careful: I use a simple large cooking pot that I fill a third of the way up with canola oil, I watch the temperature of the oil carefully using a deep-fry thermometer and – most importantly – I never ever leave the kitchen while the oil’s on the stove.
All in all, it was a great experience and we absolutely loved this meal. My first tempura was crisp, light and the vegetables were perfectly cooked. It’s unlikely I would have thought of making my own so I’m happy the Daring Cooks pushed me to do so! The Hiyashi Soba Salad and its dipping sauce were so fresh and tasty, it made me long for summer. For sure I will make this again and again, after all, how can you get bored with such a salad when you can come up with a different combination of vegetables and proteins every time you serve it? The Miso Soup was the icing on the cake, sipping it throughout the meal brought everything together. E and I really enjoyed this dinner and it fueled our dream to visit Japan. We’re at the planning stage to go this fall, fingers crossed!
Messy kitchen, delicious meal. Homemade tempura, it’s really worth it!
Watch below or click here to view it in HD on YouTube.
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
This soup literally takes 5 minutes to put together. Serves 2.
2 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon dashi stock granules
2 tablespoons miso paste
¼ cup diced firm or soft tofu
A handful of chopped spinach, or wakame seaweed if you can find it
Mix everything together in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the miso paste well. Serve.
For the noodles:
150 to 180g of dried soba (buckwheat) noodles per person
2 quarts water + 2 cups cold water, separate
For the salad, your choice of:
Thin omelet strips
Boiled and sliced chicken breasts
Daikon (Japanese) radish, julienned
Choice of seasonings:
Green onions, sliced
Green nori flakes or toasted nori flakes
Spicy Dipping Sauce (see note):
½ cup green onions, very finely chopped (not just sliced)
3 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce (like Kikkoman)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon prepared wasabi
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt and black pepper to taste (a generous pinch of each)
Prepare the noodles:
Heat 2 quarts of water and a generous pinch of salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles, 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. If you’re preparing the noodles in advance, store them in an airtight container. Try to arrange them neatly in the storing container, not in a messy pile. To serve, if the noodles have stuck together a bit, put them in a colander and run very cold water through them, they will instantly loosen up. Drain very well before serving (I dry them with a clean kitchen towel to make sure there won’t be any water in my plates).
Prepare the dipping sauce:
Mix everything together in a screw-top container. Mix very well.
Plate the salad:
To serve, divide up the noodles on each serving plate. Arrange your choice of protein/vegetables to the side. Try to do it elegantly and neatly, Japanese-style! Sprinkle the noodles with some green onions, sesame seeds and nori flakes. Serve each serving with a bowl of dipping sauce. Put additional small serving dishes of each seasoning on the table so everyone can add more to taste.
To eat the salad:
The noodles are eaten by sprinkling the desired garnishes into the dipping sauce and eating the noodles by first dipping them into the sauce. Feel free to slurp!
NOTE: The traditional Hiyashi Soba sauce is made with Kombu dashi. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it:
2 cups Kombu dashi broth, homemade or store-bought (or basic vegetable stock)
1/3 cup Japanese soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin
Put mirin in a small saucepan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Hiyashi soba salad recipe adapted from Globetrotter Diaries and About.com – Japanese Food recipes.
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Author: Marie Asselin
That really helped me with the tempura. I'm in a dinner party that prepares only new recipes. I have to transport the tempura and wanted to know about reheating it. Thanks for the vegetable hints also.
To be honest, tempura is one of the worst dish to prepare in advance, it’s really a dish to enjoy right after it’s cooked. My fear is that it will turn soggy if you try to reheat it. If you really must make it in advance, your best bet is to set each piece of tempura cool completely on a rack right after you’ve fried it. Then reheat your tempura in a 375°-400°F oven – on a rack, again, set over a baking sheet. If you set the tempura directly on a baking sheet, the bottom will be soggy. Using a rack is your best bet – but I can’t garantee it’ll take as light and fluffy as if you’d just made it! Good luck, I hope it turns out well.
Wow, it all looks so delicious. Will definately be trying your recipe for Miso soup soon. Yum!
That’s a very beautifully done challenge. Love that you completed it with miso soup, my favorite! Excellent job!
Marie, you did a wonderful job on this challenge – everything looks like it’s professionally done – gorgeous!
Thanks Mardi, your comment is very flattering. I think the fact I love Japanese food so much motivated me to go all out and be very meticulous with this one! I’m happy about the results and I can’t wait to enjoy the leftover soba noodles today for lunch!
Wow! I’m so impressed with the level of details you went into! Your Japanese meal looks so delicious and everything is just perfect! Congratulations!
I was also so pleased at how it turned out! I would have happily paid for such a meal at a Japanese restaurant – I had never achieved this level of satisfaction with homemade Japanese food before :) So happy to have participated in this challenge.
WOW astounding photography everything is perfect you can almost smell the food you are the tempura master I think. Great work on this challenge I love the picture of the butterflied prawns.
Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.
I wouldn’t say I’m a master yet, but I’m happy about how smoothly it went and was delighted with the taste of my very first tempura. It’s very tempting to want to do it again and again! Thank you for your great comment, I’m looking forward to the next challenge :)
What a beautiful meal you made. The sesame on the noodles is wonderful, and the tempura looks so perfectly crispy. Amazing job on this challenge!
Yes, I love sesame seeds on anything, but they were especially good on the soba salad! And the tempura turned out beautiful, I was surprised at how crispy it stayed even as it rested in the oven while I cooked all of the veggies and the shrimp! I think it’s the perfect batter.