Monday, February 14, 2011

Daring Cooks February Challenge - Hiyashi Soba and Tempura

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

Lord knows I’m always up for making Japanese food. We had a big sushi party here, a couple of weeks ago. The guests pitched in and took a shot at rolling their own maki, while I looked over their shoulder and pretended to be an expert. It was fun!

So I was pleased to discover this month’s DC challenge: cold soba and tempura. Laurent and I have made tempura before, but it had been a while. And it had been even longer since we’d had soba at home. We usually prefer udon or ramen, which are less healthy, but milder tasting. And we usually serve them in hot soups, rather than cold. But I had hiyashi soba several times last summer in Japan, and they were a refreshing delight on a hot, muggy day.

I don’t have much to report this month. I mistakenly thought I had a pack of soba left in the pantry, and had to run out and substitute what I could find. Technically, I used buckwheat lomein, but I’m fairly sure they only differ from soba by their shape. I probably should have rinsed the cooked noodles a little more, as they stuck together a bit. But a little bit of spicy dipping sauce (very zippy, by the way!) did the trick and made them slurp-a-licious!

For the tempura, I was pleased to learn a couple of tricks to improve results, such as keeping everything cold prior to frying, and putting the fried pieces of food on a rack to drip their excess oil, instead of blotting them on paper towels. This was definitely the crispiest, lightest tempura we ever made! It was also our first time using shiitake and eggplants for this dish (we usually stick to shrimp), and we enjoyed both, especially the mushrooms.

Thanks, Lisa, for this challenge and for all the info!

Please check out the Daring Cooks’ blogroll to see what everyone else cooked up this week. And visit The Daring Kitchen to look at this month’s challenge recipes.


  1. WOW amazing photos I really love the last photo of the tempura great job on this challenge. The sushi party sounds marvellous and I adore the bright colours in your pixs.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Sushi party sounds so exciting wish i could attend to one or host for one.Everything looks so wonderful your tempura looks crispy=;)

  3. Yum, your tempura looks perfect! Shiitake mushrooms tempura must've tasted divine. Great job on this challenge!

  4. Beautiful photos, Valerie, and it all looks absolutely delicious. Your tempura is perfect--I wasn't so happy with mine.
    Oh, Japan. I was in Kobe for 6 months. I also got a book from the library called 'Oishinbo?'--I thought it was a cookbook, but it was a manga about food. Isn't this part of your studies? Anyway, it was an interesting read, once I got the hang of the back to front thing.

  5. You were in Japan last summer? Wild!! How long? What did you do? Did you post about it? I know I am a fairly new follower, but I love travel and culinary tourism and am so interested in that as my travels consistently affect my home cuisine. I could not imagine cold tempura. Isn't that kind of blasphemy? I mean, sure - if there is left over, it is cold. But is it not at its best hot?
    The soba noodle is something I have not yet tried. Oh, so much homework left for me in this life!
    Happy sigh!

  6. You did an amazing job! Your photos are stunning and your tempura looks really crispy and delicious!

  7. You really did a fabulous job with the challenge this month. Your photos are really spectacular. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  8. I knew you would fall in love with this challenge and I am happy to year you still managed to learn a few things. Everything looks amazing and delicious. I had to bow out this month.

  9. O hmm, I am so behind with all the challenges that I hadn't even noticed the topic of this month! Tsss, so bad of me. I love how this looks and since I am actually going to Japan in april... I should be making this also! The tempura looks wonderful!

  10. Love the first photo! All sey out so lovely. Well done

  11. Val...I wish I could come to one of your sushi parties! Your tempura and soba look to die for and the presentation is perfect and lovely! That said, yes, I finally deep fried a poached Next I have to bread one like I wanted to do for the poached egg challenge when my 'puter crashed. Really worth it, at least using tempura :)