For the past few weeks, we have been eating a lot of Japanese cold buckwheat noodles. Not bragging... but honestly, these noodles are the most easiest food to cook!!! So easy that I can serve these noodles with 10 minutes and most of time, I'm twiddling my thumbs waiting for the water to boil!!! LOL!
Say that I'm crazy... but I really hate wasting time waiting!!! So, I have cooked something extra... Something crunchy and yummy to compliment these noodles. Yes that I have cooked crispy vegetable tempura. Ironically, I actually need more than 10 minutes to cook these noodles and tempura. Say that I'm crazy... but I really don't mind cooking these.
|Japanese cold buckwheat noodles with vegetable tempura|
To start, I need to make dashi stock for the dipping sauce...
|Instead of bonito flakes (as shown above) and dried kelp to cook and strain the stock ...|
|... I have used this. Something instant and it tastes as good as the one that is made from scratch.|
|However, I don't really know how to read these instructions. No worries! I have managed to decode these!|
|Then, I added these to make the dipping sauce.|
|Next, I prepared the vegetable that I want to fry.|
You might ask... Why didn't I (Zoe) cook prawn tempura? Here, I have a funny story to share here...
Me with prawn allergy: Can you please buy prawns that has been shelled and deveined because I'm afraid that the handling of the shells cause my allergy?
My husband nodded his head.
Me: Plus, I need their tails to be intact
Then, my husband and son went off to buy the things that I need and they came home with this!!!
|These frozen prawns are super tiny!!!|
Me, feeling upset after seeing this: These prawns are so tiny!!! Plus they don't have tails too!
My husband tried to explain that what I want was kind of impossible to find in our local supermarket. "You need to go to a market to buy the kind of special prawns that you want..." said my husband.
"Mum, please don't be upset with Daddy! I was the one who choose the prawns without the tails" said my son, trying to defeat his dad and also resolve our argument.
Knowing my limitation, I have to admit that beggars can't choose. I did tried to use these prawns to cook the tempura but they are too tiny to have the batter sticking on them.
The bottom line is Please DO NOT buy frozen prawns to cook tempura!!! The fresh ones are the best and you have to have NO prawn allergy so that you can shell and devein them! LOL!
Now, back to the cooking...
How do I cook tempera that is crispy? Here are some tips to share...
1) This recipe that I'm using from the book, Step-by-Step Cooking Japanese by Keiko Ishida is really good. So, use it :)
2) Use cooking oil that has high smoke point.
Ideally, the choice has to be something healthy with the least saturated and trans fat! Although canola oil (with 7% saturated, 0.8% trans fat) is good, it doesn't contain enough saturated fats to make the fried food crispy. And, whenever I use canola oil for deep frying, I will add a tablespoon or two of Crisco vegetable shortening.
Why didn't I explore the option of using different oil for deep frying? Yes, I did and discovered rice bran oil (with 20% saturated, trans fat free!) being another great option for deep frying. Although it is more expensive than canola oil, its price is actually quite comparable if I buy the oil when it is on offer or in larger bottles. In regardless, I find that rice bran oil is the best choice for my cooking so far because it is totally trans fat free!
3) Make batter in batches as it is important that the batter need to be cold before frying.
4) The oil has to be hot enough (170-180°C) for frying. If you are frying a lot of food, fry them in batches as overcrowding can lower the oil temperature.
5) Serve immediately! Tempura tend to be less crispy when they are cooled.
6) Still not crispy enough??? Place cooked tempura on a wire rack and place the wire rack on a baking tray lined with foil or baking paper. Bake tempura in preheated oven at 180°C or 160°C fan forced for 10-15 mins and you will sure get a nice crispy finish.
|This is how I made the batter.|
|Notice that I have also fried some of the tiny prawns? :p|
|The tempura is almost ready... It is time to cook the soba noodles.|
|I'm serving my noodles with these...|
|Can't wait!!! Got to eat these while they are crispy!|
Here are the recipes that are mostly adapted from the book, Step-by-Step Cooking Japanese, Delightful ideas for everyday meals by Keiko Ishida
To make dashi stock from scratch:
250ml (1 cup) water
one 5cm dried kelp (konbu)
15g bonito flakes
To make dashi stock from instant mix:
One typical 8g serve can make 750ml of stock with the right amount of saltiness to make the base of this dipping sauce. To make 250ml of stock, dissolve 3g of instant mix with 250ml of hot water. Please note that the saltiness of different brands of instant dashi stock can vary and so please check the saltiness after you have made your stock.
To make the dipping sauce for noodles and tempura:
200ml dashi stock (see above)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce (koikuchi shoyu)
3 tbsp mirin
To cook the noodles:
400g dried buckwheat noodles (soba)
adequate shredded dried seaweed (kizami nori) to serve
Japanese spice seasoning (togarashi), to serve, optional
To cook the tempura:
For people who have prawn allergy like me or vegetarians, you may wish to use the following options to substitute prawns
carrot, peeled and sliced into 0.5cm
sweet potato, peeled and sliced into 0.5cm
fresh shiitake mushrooms, stem discarded
asparagus, peeled at their lower part
Other tempura options that I didn't use:
The non vegetarian ones -
large prawns, shelled and deveined, tail intact, make 3 incisions across the belly of each prawn and straighten their bodies.
squid, cleaned and cut into 3-4 cm pieces, make a few diagonal slits on both sides of squid. This prevents them from curling when cooked.
Japanese whiting (kisu), gutted, cleaned and butterfiled
The vegetarian ones -
Japanese aubergine (nasu or eggplant), cut crossway into thick pieces, make few parallel cuts diagonally at one end of each piece of aubergine for it to spread out like a fan.
Okra, washed and pat dry
For the tempura batter:
200ml ice cold water
1 egg yolk
125g plain (all-purpose) flour
Note: I have to make two batches of these to fry 1 carrot, a bunch of asparagus, 1 sweet potato and 9 mushrooms.
Cooking oil for deep frying
To cook dashi stock from scratch:
Place kelp and water in a saucepan. Soak for 3 hrs or more. If time is limited, skip this step. Bring water to boil and add bonito flakes. Reduce to simmer for about 10 mins. Remove from heat and strain the stock after it has been cooled completely. Alternatively, you can use an instant like what I did.
To prepare dipping sauce:
Combine 200 ml dashi stock, soy sauce and mirin. Combine and set aside.
To cook the tempura:
Place water and egg yolk into a mixing bowl. Mix lightly. Using chopsticks or a fork, fold in flour lightly to form a lumpy batter. Do not beat.
Heat cooking oil to 170-180°C or 340°F. Please note it is important to fry tempura in hot frying oil. Dip the prepared vegetable / prawn or squid or fish into the batter and deep-fry them in hot oil for 2-3 mins or until crispy. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
Serve immediately with bowls of dipping sauce.
To cook the noodles:
Bring a large pot of water to rapid boil. Add noodles and cook for 4-5 mins, or until just tender (refer to cooking instructions on packet of noodles, if unsure).
Drain noodles in a colander. Rinse and rub drained noodles for a min under cold running water. Drain well.
Divide noodles into serving plates. Serve with bowls of dipping sauce shredded nori and togarashi, if desired.
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