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.
This was a delicious Daring Cooks’ challenge. I had never had soba noodles before and was a little bit skeptical about whether or not it was something we would enjoy. I’ve tried many whole wheat pastas in the past that were too healthy and not tasty, but these buckwheat noodles have a wonderful texture and mellow, slightly salty taste.
I knew I liked tempura, but had never made it at home. This tempura was very light and easy to make, but I’m still not sure that I would make it again because I rarely cook fried foods at home.
But the Soba Salad I would definitely make again. I was surprised that I liked the Soba Salad even more than the tempura. It reminded me of a pasta salad with an Asian twist. It is a quick healthy meal, that would be perfect on a hot summer night.
Cold Soba Salad and Tempura
- 2 quarts 2 Liters water + 1 cup cold water, separate
- 12 oz 340 g dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)
Spicy Dipping Sauce:
- ¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons 45 ml soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons 30 ml rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon 2½ ml (4 ? gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon 1¼ ml (⅛ gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon 15 ml grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon 15 ml sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste - roughly ⅓ a teaspoon of each
Common Hiyashi Soba Toppings:
- Thin omelet strips Ham, Boiled chicken breasts, Cucumber, Boiled bean sprouts, Tomatoes, Toasted nori (Dried Seaweed), Green onions, Wasabi powder, Finely grated daikon (Japanese radish), Beni Shoga (Pickled Ginger)
Cooking the 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.
Spicy Dipping Sauce:
- Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.
- All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.
- Traditionally soba is served on a bamboo basket tray, but if you don’t have these, you can simply serve them on a plate or in a bowl. Divide up the noodles, laying them on your serving dishes. Sprinkle each one with nori. In small side bowl or cup, place ½ cup (120 ml) of dipping sauce into each. In separate small side dishes, serve each person a small amount of wasabi, grated daikon, and green onions.
- 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 away! Oishii!