DC #22 – Soba Noodles and Tempura and a Quick Photo Tour of Zürich

by Jenn on February 14, 2011

in Dairy Free,Daring Kitchen,Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains


Sometimes I love Daring Cooks’ challenges, and sometimes I’m just “meh” about them.  This month, however, I knew right away that it was going to be a lot of fun.  We often make soba noodles in our house since we learned where to find 100% buckwheat noodles, and both of us love tempura (deep fried anything is usually a winner with most people).

I originally had a lot of commentary to say (I always have lots of commentary), but today I am going to keep things short.  I had a crazy busy trip to Zürich last week, and did a lot of deep thinking that I still have to process in my head a bit.  So instead, I will leave you with some photos of beautiful Zürich and the lake – Zürich really has nothing to do with the dish of this Daring Cooks’ post, other than the fact that I did have sushi one night while I was there, and well, that’s Japanese too, haha…. yeah a bit of a stretch eh?  Well sometimes we are stretched a bit thin – a bit like these soba noodles (ok, that was a terrible connection I know!) – so you’ll have to bear with me for the moment and just admire some pretty photos, and I’ll leave my comments on the recipe version I made below as well….

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

Zürich sits right on a lake, the Zürichsee (literally translates to Lake Zürich) – on a clear day you can see the Alps far off in the distance:





But the city itself is quite a sight as well, I love how different the architecture is from the Suisse-Romande:





I did not get to see enough of the city, so for sure I will be back.  There is definitely much I have to discover!

In the meantime, you can be happy to know that soba noodles are quick, easy, and totally adaptable to whatever flavors you feel like using.  My husband and I both love the flavor of buckwheat, so we actually buy 100% buckwheat soba noodles often from our favorite Japanese market (that way they are also gluten free).  One great trick I learned from Daring Cooks this month though is to not only rinse the noodles after cooking, but to also dump them in ice water to keep them from glueing together so much, which is especially important if using the 100% buckwheat noodles.

As for the tempura, to convert it to gluten free, we just used cornstarch for all of the flour part (the original recipe called for both cornstarch and regular flour) to make the batter.  Really, any starch should work fine – tapioca, potato, whatever you have on hand shouldn’t really matter if you can’t do the corn. Check out pink bites and itsy bitsy foodies for the tempura recipes used in this Daring Cook’s challenge.  We chose to fry baby asparagus, shrimp, and zucchini.  The shrimp was my favorite :)

*one note – I mentioned this in a comment but it may be helpful to others too – the original recipe called for a mix of starch and flour.  I tried it both ways – all starch or with starch and GF flour, and didn’t notice an appreciable difference – so if you want to make gluten free tempura, do whatever you think you’ll like best.

For the dipping sauce, we based our dressing off of this Oriental Spaghetti with Cucumber and Spicy Peanut Sauce Recipe from Gourmet (1990).  I omitted the peanut butter and used chopped peanuts instead for a bit thinner sauce, and of course wheat-free tamari instead of soy sauce to be gluten free.

Also submitted to: Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays


That’s it for now, keeping this one short and sweet.  Stay tuned for some of my Valentine’s Day creations and the next installment of the Amateur’s Food Photography series :)


Audax Artifex February 14, 2011 at 12:42 am

WOW your tempura and soba noodles look stunning and great how you can use 100% cornflour for the batter. And your pixs of Zurich look so wonderful I never knew it was so beautiful. Well done on this challenge. I adore how thin and crisp your tempura layer looks perfect. Bravo.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 12:44 am

Thanks Audax! I actually tried 2 different batters – one substituting a random GF flour mix for the flour, and one just using all starch. I found it didn’t really make a difference….

theveggie February 14, 2011 at 12:46 am

I love your dish! The tempura looks wonderful and so do the buckwheat noodles. Your pictures of Zuric are fabulous. What all did you see there? Are you going to share some tips? That would be great. Congrats on completing this month’s challenge. Cheers.

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 12:49 am

Thanks!! ha mostly I saw the inside of a building and my own computer screen. But I did get to walk around the city center a bit and try out a couple cafés and restaurants :)

Ariane February 14, 2011 at 1:00 am

Love your dipping sauce idea! We do zarusoba (“cold” soba instead of “spring” soba) a lot in the summer and I usually just take some udon soup base and thin it just enough to not be too salty. A touch of grated ginger and a some chopped green onion and you are halfway to dinner!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 1:01 am

Thanks Ariane!! I’ll have to try your version next time :)

Lana February 14, 2011 at 1:05 am

This works perfectly: great photography, just enough information, a commentary on the dishes, recommendations, lessons learned, and as a bonus, more great photos:)
I also loved this challenge, especially because all of it was pretty new to me. But, it was easy and tasty, and nobody complained even though there was no animal protein in sight:)

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

Thanks Lana!! Yes this was a great dish to make vegetarian as well – I couldn’t help but use a few shrimps though :)

Renata February 14, 2011 at 2:41 am

I wonder how crunchy the tempura turns out with cornstarch! Your noodles look delicious! I, too, had a blast with this dish it was my first time. I loved it!
Beautiful Zürich! Wonderful photos!!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 7:51 am

Thanks Renata!!

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 14, 2011 at 3:06 am

Love this post Jenn. Gorgeous pics of Zürich and of course, the food. Your batter turned out so beautifully – so light and crispy looking.

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 7:51 am

Thanks Mardi – at first I was a bit afraid about how thin it was, but I loved the way it fried.

Ruth H. February 14, 2011 at 3:09 am

Your photos are amazing – of the challenge and of Zurich! I hope your trip was as wonderful as the pictures. Your tempura looks so good. Asparagus and zucchini, among all the others… yum! Thank you for sharing your creativity!!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 7:51 am

Aww thanks!!

chef_d February 14, 2011 at 3:14 am

Your pictures of Zurich are beautiful! And the Tempura and Soba look so delicious! Shrimp tempura is my favorite too. Excellent job!

Jenn February 16, 2011 at 9:02 am


Adrian February 14, 2011 at 4:25 am

Soba noodles, always delicious! I like the idea of combining it with tempura.

If you haven’t already, make sure to visit the Lindenhof in Zurich. It may be my single favorite place in the city.

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

I haven’t been to the Lindenhof yet, I’ll make sure to see it next time I go!

AmandaonMaui February 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

Zürich is beautiful! Some day! Quelque jour! I think it’s amazing that you were able to make tempura just from starches.

Have you ever heard of mochiko chicken? The Japanese chef at my culinary school often made it. It was just chicken fried using Mochiko (sweet rice flour).

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

Interesting!!! Sounds like something that my husband would really enjoy, I’ll have to look into it!

AmandaonMaui February 24, 2011 at 5:33 am

I am thinking about making this soon, but 100% buckwheat soba noodles are about 9 dollars per box here. So, I think I’ll use brown rice spaghetti. What do you think?

Jenn February 24, 2011 at 8:19 am

Sure I think it would be fine!

Rosa February 14, 2011 at 8:14 am

A lovely challenge and gorgeous clicks of Zürich! I love those of the lake and mountains.

Cheers and happy Monday,


Jenn February 14, 2011 at 9:10 am

Thanks Rosa!!

Jamie February 14, 2011 at 8:26 am

This whole dish looks fabulous! I want this for lunch! I am seriously impressed with the perfect soba noodles, never even thought of making them myself. Perfect, delicious lunch! And Zurich!! Wow! Gorgeous! I never knew how pretty it was. Now I must visit!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 9:11 am

Thanks Jamie!! And yes, you must come to Suisse and visit!!

Peggy February 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Your pictures of Zurich are breath-taking! I love the view of the Alps in the background! And well done with the Daring Cook’s challenge! Your noodles and tempura both look mighty tasty!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Thanks so much!

Rochelle (Acquired Taste) February 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Absolutely gorgeous photos of both the soba salad and tempura as well as the ones of Zürich 😀

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Thanks Rochelle!

blepharisma February 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

LOVE the photos of Zurich… totally want to go there now (I mean this literally – like run to the airport and jump on a plane this very minute). Your tempura and soba pics are also great!! Delicious!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Suisse is a great place to visit :) Thanks!

Mary February 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Your soba and tempura look spectacular–I love the shatteringly thin crust you got on the tempura. Zurich is beautiful in winter–I’m right behind blepharisma in running to the airport! Gorgeous photos, all of them.

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Mary!! Yes, it is quite pretty, although the warm sunshine was very much welcome after how cold it’s been :)

Lois February 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Your food looks so yummy!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Thank you!

Alta February 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Yum – I was pleasantly surprised with the instructions when it came to the 100% buckwheat noodles. I’d only cooked them once before and they became a mushy mess, so this process worked well. Love your baby asparagus tempura! Sounds yummy!

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Yes, it did work well – I’ve also had mushy buckwheat noodles before, I’ll be doing the “ice” technique always now, thanks!!

Wendy @ Celiacs in the House February 14, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I just wanted to reach right into the picture and grab some veggies and shrimp. You have gotten so great at capturing light. Unfortunately, my slow cooker shredded beef tacos are just not sounding good for dinner after this post.

Jenn February 14, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Aww thanks so much Wendy! and beef tacos sound great tonight :)

Kayla @ Fitter Than Choc February 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I love jyuwari soba with anything:) And I love how you made the tempura gluten free by using corn flour. I have not had tempura ever since I went on a gf diet, and I think now I can have tempura again!!

Jenn February 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

Thanks! yeah you can use whatever GF ingredients you want I think, the original recipe called for both starch and flour and I’m beginning to think it doesn’t really matter as long as you have at least some starch in there – enjoy!

InTolerantChef February 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I’m only just introducing buckwheat into my diet, it used to react terribly with me, which is terribly unfair as it’s not anything to do with real wheat. I’ve always wanted to give the noodles a try, so maybe soon?
Hope you process all your deep thinking sucessfully, your photos look beautiful- but cold!

Jenn February 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

Thanks! Happy to hear you may be able to enjoy buckwheat soon – one of my favorite flavors :) Surprisingly, it wasn’t that cold at all – got well above 10º C each day :)

Robert February 15, 2011 at 6:05 am

I really like the addition of chopped peanuts to the final noodle dish. Everything was beautifully photographed and styled as well. Nice work.

Jenn February 15, 2011 at 8:02 am

Thanks so much!!

amy February 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

I just discovered your site from the linky party. So glad I’ve found your blog. Love your photography and your creation! 😉 This Soba noodle sound delicious! I love to make them as well more in the summer though.
You’ve got some beautiful pictures taken in Zürich. I’ve never been there so hopefully one day I will.


Jenn February 18, 2011 at 8:17 am

Thanks Amy! Yes I think it would be a lovely place to visit!

Robyn Clarke February 20, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Your photos are excellent!

Jenn February 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Thanks !

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