Monday, February 14, 2011

Buckwheat Flour is not my Friend: Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Tempura, for the Daring Cooks' Challenge

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. We were given free rein in this challenge, and only required to prepare vegetable or seafood tempura and a cold Asian noodle salad, respecting Japanese cuisine by keeping our food, clean, fresh and simple. If we chose to be especially daring, we could make our own soba noodles.

I was somewhat daring. I made my own soba noodles, but took the easy way out with a recipe using my food processor and Kitchen Aid pasta attachments. At least I thought I was taking the easy way out. I came close to running back to the store for packaged soba noodles after I inserted the first piece of dough into the pasta roller and it crumbled to pieces. I took a deep breath, kneaded the firm, troublesome buckwheat dough back together, rolled it out a little with the rolling pin, and reinserted it through the roller. With fraying threads of patience, and a Sunday mimosa within reach, I was able to produce a pile of authentic-looking soba noodles.  Sort of.


Here's a wonderful article, with photos, about a private lesson at the Soba Academy in Tokyo making Japanese buckwheat noodles from scratch. Now that's daring!

For our cold soba noodle salad, I used a recipe from Nigella Fresh: Delicious Flavors on Your Plate All Year Round, but wish I had seen this one, from Tyler Florence. Now I'm tempted to go buy those store-bought (I emphasize store-bought) soba noodles and try Tyler's recipe, with another idea I have for tempura...

Alton Brown's tempura batter recipe intrigued me (using cake flour, rice flour, vodka and seltzer), but I didn't have any seltzer water. I used beer in its place. Beer mixed with vodka - why not? And it worked beautifully. Keeping it simple, I used tiger shrimp and green beans.


Recreating an appetizer from The Brigantine, I also tempura-ed a small piece of sushi-grade ahi, wrapped in nori. A nice bottle of cold sake completed our dinner.


John styled the shrimp for me. Corny but sweet...


I think he may have been trying to make up for his delinquent sous chef duties earlier in the afternoon, when I was covering the kitchen in buckwheat flour...


At least my dog kept my feet warm in the kitchen...


I love the two men in my life...XXXOOO
Happy Valentine's Day

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Please visit The Daring Kitchen recipe archive for the complete challenge recipe, and The Daring Cooks' blogroll, for links to all our daring chefs' blogs.

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17 comments:

R. said...

Nicely done! I'm still laughing at the pic of your hubs and the pooch! Too funny :) Every once in awhile I have to remind Adam that "dinner doesn't make itself" LOL ;) How did the noodles taste?!

Audax said...

Wonderful effort on the soba noodles several other people had lots of trouble with the dough.

I love the last three pictures so cute in many senses of the word. Great photographs as well no if fact exquisite.

Also a pleasure to visit your blog.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

blepharisma said...

Hilarious! I found the buckwheat flour hard to work with, too. My noodles came out so delicate and broke easily.

shelley c. said...

I love your pictures - the food styling was so cute, so funny that he slept the whole time, and your dog is SO cute!! As for the challenge, I am so impressed that you made your own soba noodles - truly daring! And using vodka and beer? Very cool. I have heard that using vodka in these types of batter is better than water, but have never tried it... I may just have to! Wonderful job.

Ruth H. said...

You are truly daring to make the soba noodles yourself. I had no interest in doing that...! (Can I blame it on being 5+ months pregnant? Probably not...!) Yout tempura green beans look so good, I just want to reach through my screen and try one! Great work on this challenge!

Anula said...

Home made soba noodles - you're brave! Great job!
I love the photos and the look of your tempura!! So crisp and .... I could lick the screen :]
Pozdrawiam! Anula.

Jenn said...

Lovely with the soba noodles - I understand how difficult it is to work with buckwheat dough! Love the newfie pic too, makes me miss Sage (our newfie from when I was young)...

Renata said...

You were truly daring making your own soba noodles! I'm impressed with the looks of your tempura, and so lovely the heart shaped shrimps!

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Happy Valentine's Day! Your plating is just gorgeous! We had to laugh - we also tried making buckwheat noodles once. They tasted fine, but oy, never again. But,of course, vodka AND beer in the tempura makes up for a lot :-)

bunkycooks said...

I think the heart shaped shrimp is very cute and so appropriate for Valentine's Day! ;) However, the pics of the boys say it all!

FabFrugalFood said...

Iwas just exactly like your hubby on the couch after I finished this chaalenge - took me all afternoon! Cheers!

Carmen said...

Walking past your house is like passing a magician's workshop. I always wonder what's going on in there!!! Thanks for the shots of the boys ... says it all.

Carmen

climbhighak said...

Your food always looks beautiful and sounds delicious. Love the styling at the end.

I checked out the Tyler recipe and I am thinking it is definitely worth a try. When using the store bought noodles you can whip these things up so fast.

Renata said...

Hi Denise, thanks for your lovely comment on mine. I tried to find the "ice-cream" in my Soba, and found out that you used a translator, which translated "cold" into "ice-cream". I always write an English version (there is a link in the beginning of each post), which is not perfect at all, but better than the translator. Anyways, I changed my text to "served cold" and now the translator is no longer understanding "ice-cream". Thanks for advising.

Kim said...

John's a grea food stylist. ;-)

I've never even come close to making my own soba noodles, so kudos to you for making that gorgeous pile. The tempura looks delicious, too.

Hope you guys had a great Valentine's Day! It had to be better than mine (stuck in bed with the flu).

[K]

Carolyn Jung said...

Wow! That's quite an achievement making your own soba noodles. I've definitely got to try that with my KitchenAid attachment.

Lisa said...

Denise, OMG, you ARE daring. There was no way I was even going to attempt it beccause I'm not familiar with buckwheat flour. The minute mine started to crumble, I probably would have ditched and bought the noodles..lol

Regarding the tempura egg, interesting method you mentioned. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough (again lol) to peel such a soft egg, and then batter and panko? I guarantee my egg would combust - yolk all over. However, I'd like to give it a shot.

Finally, Tyler's sesame noodles DO sound amazing, and, your tempura looks delicious, crispy, and gorgeous! I wish I had stuck with my tried and true rice flour and seltzer. I don't find the yolks, or an egg in general necessary, and in fact, feel it's a detriment to the 'crispy' longevity.

Finally, love the photos of your 'men' in food coma..lol