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 japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com. 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!
1 package Panko Breadcrumbs (you won't use them all)
2 Tbsp Flour
2 Tbsp Water
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.