Wish Upon A Dish: Tempura My Way - Daring Cooks Challenge February 2011

February 15, 2011

Tempura My Way - Daring Cooks Challenge February 2011

This month's Daring Cooks' Challenge was to make tempura and soba.

I never did get a chance to complete the soba part of the challenge even though I did buy soba noodles and found a wonderful recipe I wanted to try. Life got in the way and the tempura was the only thing I did mange to do.

I used a tempura recipe from Ming Tsai's PBS show Simply Ming.
I liked the idea of light, crunchy vegetables and as we know, everything else tastes good fried. I also liked the idea of seltzer or beer (fizzy) and rice flour as the protagonist. This was on my "short list" of recipes I wanted to make this year. This tempura batter is not the goopy egg, flour and water mixture, it has no egg.

It reminds me of a fish & chip batter, not quite as heavy but light and airy nevertheless. It's extra crispy and with the addition of blanched basil, flavorful. Season well with sea salt at the end and dip in an aioli with 2 vinegars. You have a great first course or a platter for noshing and with seafood, the Japanese version of Frito Misto. I have to say, the slices of tomatoes were exceptionally tasty, crispy and delicious (try salting after slicing to remove excess moisture as you would with zucchini and eggplant). The uses are endless. The coating stays crunchy even after 2 hours.

Makes 2 cups of batter & 1 cup of aioli

Tempura Batter:

* 1 cup seltzer or club soda, freezing cold
* 1/2 cup AP flour
* 1 cup rice flour
* 1 cup basil leaves, blanched in salted water, squeezed dry and chopped fine

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and place on top of ice. Must be kept ice cold at all times. The batter will have a slight grainy texture as the rice flour does not soak up moisture like AP flour does. That is why the batter remands crunchy even after sitting for hours.
2. With canola oil at 375 degrees F, dip food into batter and let excess drip off and gently lower tomatoes into hot oil. Fry, in batches of 3-4 pieces, until GB&D (golden brown & delicious), about 2-3 minutes. It will not get dark brown like breaded frying. Drain on paper towels, season with sea salt, then move to cooling rack and keep warm in oven while you finish the rest.
3. Tomatoes are wonderful with this batter. I also did chicken, scallops, yellow pepper strips and slices of mozzarella. Onion rings would be the best. Do not expect it to completely coat the food. The whole idea is to add a light crunch.

Vinegar Aioli:

* 1 egg yolk
* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 3/4 cups canola oil
* 1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup
* 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
* 2 teaspoons Agave nectar or honey
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1. In blender, mix first 4 ingredients. With blender on, drizzle oil in until it gets thick then you can pour in faster. Remove to bowl. Add in garlic.
2. Add the vinegars and agave nectar in next, cover and refrigerate till ready to use. Will last for a month in the refrigerator.

I will post the recipe I was going to use for my soba and I will make this sometime soon.

Winter Soba
adapted from food52.com
Serves 4

For the dashi::
* 1 ginger finger, 2 inches long and slivered into 4 pieces lengthwise
* 1 konbu, 4 x 6 inch piece wiped with a damp cloth
* 2 cups bonito flakes
* 5 cups cold water
1. Place the ginger, konbu and water in a large pot and put it over medium high heat. Once the water gets a few bubbles around the edges turn off the heat and set a timer for 10 minutes.
2. At the end of 10 minutes remove the Konbu from the water and discard it. Turn the heat back on and once again when bubbles start to appear at the edges turn off the heat and add the bonito flakes. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
3. When the timer goes off strain the stock into a bowl, discard the bonito flakes and clean out the pot.

For the Winter Soba:
* 10 ounces Japanese soba noodles, they should only have buckwheat and flour in them
* 3 1/2 cups dashi
* 1/2 cup soy sauce
* 4 tablespoons mirin
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1/2 cup shiitakes, stems removed, julienned
* 2 leek, 3 inch white only, cut into super thin, no wider than a soba noodle, strips
* 2 baby radishes, sliced into paper thin rounds
* 2 scallions, cut into thin rounds
* 4 eggs
* 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
* 1 1/4 pound salmon, skin removed, and minced
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and cook them according to the instructions. Usually 3 to 5 minutes. Drain them and cool them under cold running water to stop the cooking. Clean the pot and add 6 inches of water. Add the vinegar to the water. Place it over medium heat.
2. In a sauce pan add the dashi, soy, mirin, sugar, shiitakes and leeks. Place the pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium.
3. Bring the pot with vinegar water to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Crack each egg into a separate saucer and gently slip them into the water.
4. Divide the noodles between four bowls. Place 4 oz of chopped salmon into each bowl, add some turnip slices. Bring the broth to a boil and ladle some into each bowl. Add some leeks and shiitakes to each bowl. Add a poached egg and then top with green onions, toasted sesame and furikake seasoning.

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

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