This is vitality in a one-dish meal. The combination of strengthening buckwheat noodles with the richness of batter-fried root and sweet vegetables work within a savory, gingered broth to create a strong body and clear mind. All that and it tastes great!
Makes 3-4 servings
Soba Broth (Dashi)
4 cups spring or filtered water
1/4 cup organic soy sauce
1-inch piece kombu
1-2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, stems removed
5-6 slices fresh ginger
1 cup whole wheat pastry or sprouted wheat flour
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon kuzu, dissolved in a small bit of cold water
3/4-1 cup dark beer or sparkling water
1 onion, sliced in thin rings
1-2 carrots, thin oblong slices
1 medium burdock, thin oblong slices
1 small sweet potato, thin oblong slices
several cremini mushrooms, brushed free of dirt, halved
2 spears broccoli, small florets
2 quarts avocado or sunflower oil for frying
8 ounces soba noodles
2-3 fresh scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
Prepare the broth by combining water, soy sauce, kombu, shiitake and ginger. Bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat to low and remove kombu, shiitake and ginger. Slice shiitake and kombu into thin pieces and return to broth. Discard ginger. Simmer 15-20 minutes, covered, to develop flavors.
Mix tempura batter by combining flour and salt. Stir in dissolved kuzu. Slowly add beer or sparkling water to form a thin spoonable batter--take care that it’s not too runny. Set batter aside for 10 minutes before use. The sparkling water or beer and the kuzu are what will make your coating crispy, so they are important ingredients.
Prepare the vegetables for tempura and set them out on a platter for easy access. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Make sure the oil is hot enough to fry (you can check the temperature by simply submerging a pair of chopsticks in the oil. If bubbles accumulate around the chopsticks, the oil is hot enough to cook). Raise the heat to high and begin dipping the vegetables in the tempura batter and dropping them gently into the oil. Fry until crispy and golden brown. The average frying time is 1-2 minutes--try not to leave the food in the oil too long or your food will be oily, instead of crispy. Drain well on paper. Repeat with remaining ingredients. You may want to keep the fried veggies in a warm oven to keep them crisp while you continue to work.
Cook noodles by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles al dente. Drain and rinse well.
To assemble, mound noodles in four individual serving bowls. Ladle broth over them and top generously with tempura veggies. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh scallions.