Feb 14, 2011

Daring Cooks: Soba Noodles 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 japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com

Happy Valentines Day everybody! I love Valentines Day, although I didn't used to. High school made me a bitter bitter girl, but now that I'm out of there, I've learned to love Feb 14th. I also love any chance I have to sneak around and plan super secret awesome surprises. I came up with some prettttttty awesome stuff today for Dan, but you all will have to wait until tomorrow to find out what it is on the off chance that he checks out this post.
But! That is not what I'm here to talk about today. Today I want to tell you about Daring Cooks! I haven't been able to complete a Daring Cooks challenge for a long time because I'm using a community kitchen. This makes challenging recipes even more challenging due to limited refrigerator space and limited access to a stove/oven. But I was able to complete this months challenge...well sort of.This month's challenge was a cold soba noodle salad and tempura. Today I'll talk mostly about the noodle salad because I didn't try making the Tempura gluten free. I'm going to try that next weekend, so next week I'll put up a post about making gluten free tempura in more detail.
Now here's the thing about this noodle salad. I couldn't find ANY of the ingredients. Which is weird, since I live in Santa Cruz and I would expect there to be a lot of resources available to me as far as food selection. These were the three hardest things to find
1. Soba noodles. How is this so difficult to get?! Soba noodles are buckwheat noodles, meaning that they are naturally gluten free. Well guess what? Apparently noodle companies decided to do away with tradition and bring in the wheat flour. Every soba noodle I found was made with majority wheat flour. Not ok noodle guys. Not ok.
2. Katsuobushi Dashi. Now I looked it up and this is a sauce made of seaweed and bonito flakes. I couldn't find it anywhere! I went to three stores! I even went to New Leaf! (which is like whole foods, but smaller) I told the guy at the register that I couldn't find it and he said that they could put in a special order, but I didn't have that kind of time/money.
3. Mirin. Ok, this was actually not that hard to find. It's just that I'm 20 and can't legally buy it yet.
So I encountered a lot of difficulties with this challenge. What I ended up doing was basically improvising my own cold noodle salad. Here's my recipe:

Natalie's Asian Noodle Salad
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 lb quinoa pasta (preferably you should use buckwheat noodles, but I thought quinoa was an ok replacement)

Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger in a bowl and let sit while making the noodles. Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and run under cold water until noodles are cool. Sprinkle green onions over pasta. Serve by dipping noodles in sauce, or pour some sauce onto noodles. Make sure it's served cold, it's sooooo delicious cold. I was actually kind of wary with this recipe; I wasn't sure that it was going to work out with that much soy sauce.But oh my gosh. I love soy sauce on pasta and now there's no going back. This is my new go-to quick meal.

Try it out on a hot day sometime!


  1. Your soba salad looks so refreshing! Great job!

  2. Wonderful to hear that you subs 'soba' salad worked out so well great work on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.