Japanese food that's not sushi? Okay!
This month, we made tempura. It was yet another opportunity to fire up the FryDaddy, and it was good. The biggest challenge for me was the dipping sauce for the tempura. Part of the challenge was to cook soba noodles (which I already do about once a week for Peanut Butter Spaghetti) and prepare a dipping sauce. I opted for the dashi sauce, simply because I've been thinking about preparing dashi stock for ages, and this was an opportunity to be a little daring.
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.
For a .pdf of the recipes, click here.
As you might suspect, tempura itself is not that difficult to prepare. You choose your raw materials, slice them as needed, batter, and fry. Many options, like shrimp and mushrooms, don't even need to be chopped. And with the batter, less is more - traditionally, you stir with chopsticks, and keeping the batter on the chunky side is recommended. The batter should be used pretty sparingly, since you're still supposed to be able to see the veggies or shrimp or even fruit through the batter, once you're good and fried.
We made broccoli, onions, sweet potato, and shrimp tempura.
The dashi was enjoyable to make, although I didn't expect it to take quite as long as it required. I didn't have time for a jaunt down to the Asian market, so I had to find kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) at the specialty grocery store in the neigbhorhood. Then I soaked and simmered the kombu, added the katsuobushi, steeped the combo, strained the stock, re-added the kombu and katsuobushi, boiled again, added more katsuobushi, and strained again. Whew. We used all the dashi in the Mentsuyu dipping sauce.
Sorry, no pics of the soba or dipping sauce. Oops.
Great meal. We loved the tempura and soba, and we'll definitely do it again.