Sunday, 2 October 2011

Tempura Soba (w/ Prawns)

When I had almost finished the grocery shopping, I suddenly felt like tempura prawns... So off I went to the fish shop and bought 12 prawns. And the funny thing is (well, not really), there's this man standing next to me, and he buys about two kilograms of banana prawns for around $26 and then two seconds later I say, "Can I have twelve paradise prawns?"...which is like $2.50. Actually, my favourite type of prawn are tiger prawns, or any prawn that has really dark green (almost black) stripes. I only bought paradise prawns today because they looked pretty fresh anyway and weren't as big. For me, I always find frozen prawns in a bag kind of icky since they have some sort of thing that makes them crunchy and a bit weird. Not fresh at all anyway. I also prefer to buy shelled prawns and to peel and devein myself because having that amount of control over cleaning my own prawns allows me to be as obsessive as necessary.

Cleaning and preparing the prawns is quite complicated, but many of the steps could be skipped if you really don't care. But following the process (in the recipe below) is so much better...don't worry there are only twelve prawns! Again, this is another recipe that I bluffed my way through with the process. I've eaten tempura-ed prawns and vegetables numerous times and this is my second attempt at making it. My first attempt was many, many years ago and it was pretty good, also not spectacular...because I used a recipe I found.
Buy soba noodles made in Japan or Korea or...any eastern Asian country because the quality will clearly differ. Some of the noodles will break as soon as they are picked up and don't have that nice chewy texture. If you can't read the instructions, it doesn't matter. I also use instant dashi powder for the soup because: #1 I'm lazy and #2 I can't get ingredients to make it from scratch. You can also go ahead and dip vegetables in the tempura batter as well. I had some green peppers, which I cut in half length-ways, deseeded, battered and then fried. Ooh...Spicy~

If you can't find potato starch/flour, corn starch/flour is a suitable substitute even though I find that the potato starch gives a better and crunchier texture...maybe it doesn't and I'm just imagining things. Who knows?

And, hey, it may not be 110% authentic ("soup"-wise) but it's pretty close. ;) But hot diggity that batter's good.

Tempura Soba
Serves 4

For the Noodles & Soup:
4 bundles of soba noodles
~4 tbsp of dried wakame (type of seaweed)
2 tsp miso paste
1 tsp instant dashi
1 stalk of green onion

For the Tempura:
12 raw medium prawns, unpeeled (200-250g)
1 tbsp of potato starch/flour (or corn starch/flour)
1/4 cup of potato starch/flour (or corn starch/flour) + extra for dusting
1/4 cup of plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 cup of beer or soda water, cold
Oil for deep frying

To prepare the prawns, twist off the head and peel until you get to the last "section" and the tail. Then using a knife, cut a shallow line down the prawn's back and remove the sand vein. Rinse all the prawns thoroughly and put in a dish. Add 1 tbsp of potato starch and toss and rub the prawns with the starch to remove any unpleasant fishy odour. Leave for a minute or two and rinse the prawns thoroughly. Then pat the prawns dry on a paper towel and remove the small dark vein on the underside of the prawn and gently press the prawn on a hard surface, underside down to keep straight. Then sift a light layer of potato starch on both sides. Set aside.

Heat a pan/wok of oil with enough oil to deep fry. The oil needs to be around 180 degrees C, or when a small drop of batter floats on the top and bubbles. To make the batter, combine the flour, 1/4 cup of potato starch and bicarbonate soda. Add the beer and gently combine with a whisk. Don't worry about any small lumps. Use the batter immediately, otherwise the bubbles will disappear and the batter will end up being rather heavy. Preferably using a long pair of chopsticks, dip and thoroughly coat the prawns in the batter and cook in the pan for about 3-4 minutes rotating once if necessary. Make sure that the prawn have a nice light golden colour all over. Place the cooked prawns on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

For the soba noodles, follow package directions or bring a generous amount of water to the boil and add the noodles. Cook for a few minutes, 2-4 minutes, check by breaking the noodle in half and making sure there is no hard, white bit in the centre. Strain the noodles and rinse in ice water. Dip the noodles in boiling water to refresh and place in the serving bowl.

For the soup, bring 3 cups of water to the boil and add the dashi powder, miso paste and green onion. Boil for about 30 seconds more to get rid of the alcohol in the miso. Check the saltiness and add more miso or dashi if necessary since different types of miso can be more or less salty, same with dashi powder. I used a awasemiso which is a combination of akamiso and shiromiso. Ladle the soup evenly into each bowl. Top with tempura prawns and chopped green onion (and anything else you feel like).

Serve hot immediately.

1 comment:

So what do you think?