Daring Cooks: Cold Noodle Salad and Tempura

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Hi, I'm Heather, and I'm an amateur deep fryer.

(Hi, Heather.)

All my life, I've been intensely afraid of deep frying. All attempts to 'fry' things have resulted in burned/too oily/not crispy/downright scary items that get tossed in the garbage. Then there is the inevitable weeping and damning myself for not being better at life. If it weren't for the Daring Cooks, I might never have faced a vat of hot oil again and learned to embrace the fear.

(Applause.)

But seriously. Frying stuff is scary. But NOT scary if you have a simple candy/fry thermometer and good instructions! I really had low hopes for tempura because of my track record. Lo and behold, by following the instructions and monitoring the temperature, even *I* can make a crispy, deep fried vegetable.

Wanna know the best part? It was excellent practice for one of the scariest bits of my baking challenge: Doughnuts. Stay tuned for that!

Emeril's Cold Noodle Salad (Emeril Lagasse)
-1/4 cup honey
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-4 teaspoons sesame oil
-1 pound soba noodles, cooked until tender and refreshed in ice water
-1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, cut on the bias
-1/2 cup bean sprouts
-1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
-1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
-1 cup lightly crushed toasted cashews
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
-2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce and sesame oil. To the noodles, add green onions, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumber, cashews, cilantro, sesame seeds, and the soy mixture and mix thoroughly.

Verdict: This recipe isn't new to me, but it hasn't stopped in the deliciousness department. It is the perfect no-cook recipe for summer bbq's. Fresh, tasty, and healthy to boot!

Tempura Vegetables (from pinkbites and itsybitsyfoodies)
-1 egg yolk from a large egg
-1 cup (240 ml) iced water
-½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
-½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
-½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
-oil, for deep frying preferably vegetable
-ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

Very cold vegetables and seafood of your choice ie:
* Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
* Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
* Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
* Green beans, trimmed
* Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
* Assorted fresh mushrooms
* Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
* Onions sliced

1. Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.

3. Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.

4. Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.

5. Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.

Verdict: Awesome! I used two types of squash (summer and something like zucchini, but started with a 't'....damn my memory!), carrots, and sliced white onion. I won't lie--the onion was my favorite part. Mmm....tempura onion rings....

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

14 comments:

Ann said...

Good for you, Heather! My mom makes the best tempura, but unfortunately when I try it's a bit soggy. Thanks for the tip about the candy thermometer -- I'll use one next time I make tempura.

Brindusa said...

Hello Heather. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment.
Your DC tempura is a success. It looks so crispy and healthy, even if it is fried. I am waiting now for your doughnuts :)
Have a nice week.

Roxan said...

Honey in the soba sauce, that sounds so good! I've never used honey in mine before, but I am totally going to do that next time. Your tempura looks amazing also.

Anonymous said...

The other squash was grey zucchini, which is a variant of summer squash, methinks. :)

Swathi said...

I love both tempura and soba noodles, i need to try some time. Home made is always best.

Susan said...

I love tempura! Give me chicken or shrimp tempura that has a spicy batter! Total heaven!

Ang said...

Those tempura veggies look amazing! Heck the whole dish looks amazing. :)

Audax said...

I'm very proud of you getting over your deep frying phobia well done and the batter looks superb thin and crisp bravo bravo bravo on you.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Mary said...

That salad sounds delicious, and your tempura is perfect! Nicely done, and you conquered a fear at the same time. I must warn you that making doughnuts is dangerous, and will lead to making more doughnuts. Enjoy!

Rochelle said...

This looks great! I'm also thrilled to hear your phobia of deep frying is under control, conquering your fear and making something so delicious makes for a great challenge out come :D

Reeni said...

As soon as I started reading I thought 'thermometer' and then you said the magic word - I don't know what I would do without mine - it's one of those things I can't believe I cooked without for so long. Anywhoo now that I wrote a book - love the noodles and your tempura looks perfect!

Kristen said...

You know, I am more afraid of tempura than I am of doughnuts (which I make fairly regularly). Your results look great!

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

What a gorgeous dish! I too hate to fry, but might make an exception for this! :)

Robyn Clarke said...

Fantastic. Looks great! The noodle recipe looks great, will have to give it a go in the summer.

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