It’s unlike me to visit a grocery store looking for a specific ingredient. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like using recipes. This means I usually just go and peruse the produce, meat and seafood sections to see what looks good. After finding something that leaps out at me, I’ll round out the basket with other things that will go with whatever it was that got me all excited.
Today however, I went to Wholefoods after work in search of Chanterelle Mushrooms. You see, the fine folks at Marx Foods are having another cooking competition. The secret ingredient? You guessed, it, Chanterelle Mushrooms.
When thinking about what to do with the Chanterelles I ran through the usual gamut of cream sauces, pastas, sautes, and soups one thinks about when you think “Chanterelle”. But since none of these seemed particularly inspired and Chanterelles are mostly about texture, with a very subtle flavour, I didn’t want to do something that would overpower either.
Most tempura you get here is like beer battered fish and chips. Not that there’s anything wrong with beer battered fish (or beer battered anything for that matter), but it’s just not tempura. Tempura should be fresh seafood or vegetables with a thin coating of batter, not the other way around. The hot oil enriches and concentrates the natural flavours of whatever you’re frying while the delicate batter encases it in a crisp jacket that’s neither greasy nor heavy.
The fried mushrooms are fantastic sprinkled with a bit of smoked sea salt, but I took it one step further and used them to top a steaming bowl of soba noodles. The tempura adds depth to the broth and while it will loose some of its crispness, the batter soaks up the dashi giving it an effect not unlike the slice of baguette on top of French onion soup.
The trick here is to make the broth first, then have the noodles and tempura done at exactly the same time. If the tempura sits for too long, it will get soggy, if the noodles sit for too long, they will stick together.
- First make the soup by putting the dashi, mirin, soy sauce and salt in a saucepan and bringing to a boil. Keep it warm over low heat.
Prep the Chanterelles by cleaning them thoroughly. With a small brush and paper towels. Add them to a bowl along with the onions and green beans.
Boil some water for the noodles. Get a wire rack ready for the tempura by covering it with a layer of paper towels. Make sure you have some ice cold water on hand and that the bowl your going to mix the batter in along with the flour is nice and cold (I put them in the freezer for 10 minutes).
In a cast iron or other heavy bottomed pan, add about 1" of oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 340 degrees.
Add the flour to the vegetables and toss to coat evenly. Add the cold club soda and quickly mix until a batter forms, but do not over-mix or your batter with get tough.
Put a mound of the vegetables and batter onto a spatula and then use another one to push the mound into the oil being careful not to splash. Repeat with the rest of the batter and then fry until crisp, flipping the tempura over at least once.
- To serve the soba, just put the noodles in 2 bowls, top with green onions, pour the soup over the noodles, then top with the tempura and yuzu rind.