Monday, February 14, 2011

Hiyashi Soba and Tempura

First things first... Happy Valentine's Day! It may be manufactured holiday but I still enjoy it. There is nothing wrong with a reminder to say thank you and send "pink hearts" to those you love. Thank you to my friends, family and anyone who stumbles across this posts and reads it for your time and support. <3

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,, and You can find her detailed notes on preparing the challenge foods and the provided recipes here.

Hiyashi Soba is a popular Japanese noodle salad that is served only during the summer. It is a flexible recipe - you can eat soba noodles just with dipping sauce and call it a day or serve up lots of veggies on the side to mix with the noodles and sauce. While I have made soba noodle dishes before, this was my first cold recipe and it was a pleasant change of pace that will be revisited.

I served the soba noodles with julienned cucumber, shitake mushroom slices (zapped for 30 seconds in the microwave), grated daikon and the spicy dipping sauce from the recipe Lisa provided. I especially loved the sauce's zingy flavor with the lightness of the cucumbers on the soba. As she says and, as I've learned the hard way, the most important thing with soba noodles is making sure they don't overcook and become a gelatinous clump. The big plate is snow pea shoots and mustard greens sauteed with sesame and veggie oil and some ginger. I found them a bit bitter so I'm not going to elaborate.

Instead of using the provided tempora recipe, I used the one listed on the back of my panko bread crumbs. The resulting tempora had a nice, crunchy breading that I was surprised to enjoy as I'm not a big fan of fried food, outside of corn dogs and funnel cakes. I preferred the sweet potato and broccoli to the squash and the decorative Sriracha was a fun way to spice up these bits. I don't think I will make tempora again as I find the cost of oil for deep frying somewhat prohibitive but at least I no longer feel the need to shun it. Thanks for a fun challenge, Lisa!

Panko Tempura

Vegetable Oil
1 package Panko Breadcrumbs (you won't use them all)
2 Tbsp Flour
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Water
Pinch Salt
1 yellow squash, cut into 1/3" slices
1 small sweet potato, cut into 1/3" slices
1 cup broccoli florets, separated into small bunches if necessary

1. Heat oil in a large pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You should have 2 inches of oil present.
2. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet with a sheet of newspaper on top. Cover the newspaper with paper towels. 
2. Place panko breadcrumbs on a plate. Place 2 tablespoons of flour on a separate plate. Mix the egg with a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl.
3. Evenly coat each vegetable slice lightly with flour. Dip into egg mixture. Then dredge in the panko breadcrumbs.
4. Cook the breaded vegetables 4-5 at a time for about 2 minutes each until golden and crispy. Flip once or twice as they cook to get more even coloration.
5. Remove to the wire rack to let the oil drain. A long handled wire skimmer works well for this process as it lets excess oil drain off. It also is good for fishing out extra breading between batches.

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  1. WOW love those panko tempura vegetable they have such a beautiful colour and I bet they are extra crisp. And I love your photographs well done on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Love the photos - and that little heart ^^
    You did a great job - everything looks soooo yummy!
    Pozdrawiam! Anula.

  3. Audax - Thank you! They were so crispy. I really appreciate the photo compliment. I am working hard to improve them right now.

    Anula - I couldn't resist the heart with it being Valentine's Day! Thank you.

  4. Happy Valentines Day! Your pictures look great - all the food looks delicious! The tempura looks so crispy and delicious and your soba noodles sound so refreshing. Great job!

  5. Shelley - Thank you! Happy Valentine's Day to you too.

  6. It all looks wonderful, and I bet the tempura was very crisp. Sweet potato is my favourite too. I love panko crumbs, but have actually never deep-fried them. Hmmm.

  7. Mary - Uh oh do I see more deep frying in your future? ;)

  8. Wow love the sweet potato tempura. Great job!

  9. Chef D - Thank you! It was yummy.

  10. I did panko-crusted shrimp once and I loved the super-light and crispy crust! Those veggies look fantastic - I should try them next!

  11. Thank you, Lisa! I really regret not thinking of shrimp.