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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.

This month’s challenge was super exciting because I love, and I do mean loooove, eating Japanese food! So when I saw soba noodles and tempura were on the menu I was through the roof. For this challenge we were to make Hiyashi Soba, a popular soba noodle salad reserved primarily for summer. Soba noodles are a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. They are usually served cold with a dipping sauce (as in this dish), or in a hot broth as a noodle soup (which is how I’ve normally had them up until this challenge). We were also challenged to make tempura. Tempura is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried. A light batter is made of cold water (sometimes sparkling water is used to keep the batter light and soft) and wheat flour (cake, pastry or all-purpose flour). Eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added. I don’t do any deep frying in my kitchen, so I opted for a baked version of the tempura. While still tasty (and a whole let healthier), it really doesn’t hold a candle to the traditional deep fried version.

I must say that after this challenge I have completely fallen in love with cold soba noodles, and the provided spicy dipping sauce recipe is definitely a keeper! I love the fresh flavors and simplicity of this dish, and can definitely see a lot more Hiyashi Soba on the menu come summer!

You can get the recipes and learn how to serve Hiyashi Soba after the jump.

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