As I have mentioned before, Josh loves soups. He also loves seafood. Combine these two things and we have a major winner (this is the kid who, for his birthday one year, requested I make “fish head soup”–more on that some other day).
Josh discovered miso a few years back at a Japanese restaurant. We had ordered up a couple of rounds of yakitori, and while we were waiting the waitress brought over a cup of simple miso broth for each of us. Josh downed his in a couple of gulps, slurped up the tofu cubes, and asked for another.
With this history in mind, I decided to make a tempura udon, but with a miso base in place of the more traditional dashi/soy soup base. Here’s what I came up with:
- 10 cups water
5 tablespoons miso paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 scallion, sliced in 1/4 disks (all the white and about 1/2 of the green)
1 handful snow pea greens (or some other quick-cooking greens)
1/2 lb udon
- 1/3 cup corn starch
2/3 cup flour
1 cup cold water
- 1-1/4 lbs large shrimp (I use 16-18 count)
1 large carrot
1 small squash
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine
Put 10 cups of water in a large pot and start to heat it. Measure out 5 tablespoons of miso paste into a small bowl. I use red, but if you prefer white, go for it. When your water gets about “wrist warm,” transfer 5 tablespoons of water into the bowl with the miso paste. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Wisk until smooth, and then add the mixture to the pot of water. Bring to just under a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add your scallion wheels and let the soup simmer while you prepare your tempura.
While you are waiting for the soup base to heat up, prep your shrimp and vegetables. After you peel and de-vein your shrimp, pat them dry with a paper towel and set them aside. Peel your carrot and your squash and cut into thin slices–disks for your squash and angled ovals for your carrots. By all means swap vegetables here–maybe a sweet potato instead of squash.
Now it’s time to get your oil hot. It seems like I’ve been doing a lot of frying lately. Oh well. You are going to want 3″-4″ of oil in a deep heavy pan.
Oh: and don’t forget you’re going to be getting some noodles going as well. Depending on how quickly or slowly you are at frying, you might want to get that water going as well.
Wisk together the cornstarch, flour, and water to make the tempura batter. Starting with the squash, dip one disk into the batter, covering it completely. Allow the excess to drip off, then carefully place the battered disk into the hot oil. It will be easier to stick to one vegetable per batch. As you finish each batch, place the fried vegetables on paper towels to absorb the extra oil.
By the time you have finished your veggies, you are probably ready to drop your udon in the boiling water. Now you are ready to fry your last batch: the shrimp.
Fry the shrimp as you did the other tempura. Make sure that oil temperature doesn’t drop too low–you really want a nice, crisp tempura coating on those shrimp. Place the tempura shrimp on paper towels as well.
OK, drain those noodles and add to your soup base. Sometimes I will plate noodles in everyone’s bowls and then add the soup, but for this dish I say it’s noodles in the pot. Finally, add a handful for quick cooking greens into the pot. I used snow peas greens because they looked great at the farmer’s market.
For serving this dish, I plate up shrimp, carrots, and squash on separate plates. After that it’s up to individual palates whether or not to garnish the soup with the tempura (the way Josh and I eat it) or leave it to the side (like the rest of the family). Either way, the tempura dipping sauce is a nice addition–either dribbled into the soup, or as a dip.