Create your own warm and comforting New Year’s Eve noodles with our Toshikoshi soba recipe. With Japanese seven spice and the delicate sweetness of Honteri and tiger prawns – this dish will be sure to melt away the hardship of the past year and welcome the journey ahead.
1 piece kombu (dried kelp)
10g katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
100ml Usukuchi Shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)
200g dried soba noodles
2 tbsp (4g) dried wakame seaweed
4 slices kamaboko (fish cake)
2 spring onions
Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven spice)
10 prawns (typically Black Tiger Prawns are used for shrimp tempura at home)
20g corn starch or potato starch
100g plain flour
Additional starch for dusting prawns
200ml iced water and ice cubes
1. First make the noodle soup. Place the kombu in cold water in a saucepan and slowly raise the heat to 60°C. You should be able to put your finger in the water – do not boil and do not let the heat go any higher.
2. Turn off the heat and remove the kombu and keep for another use. Now place the dried bonito flakes in the kombu water and leave them in there for 30 seconds only, then remove – any longer and the dashi/soup stock will be bitter.
3. Strain the stock to remove any fish flakes then add the Usukuchi and Honteri and bring to just below boiling point. This is your soup at a ratio of 7-1-1; water-Honteri-Usukuchi. If you want a weaker soup change to 8-1-1 or 9-1-1
4. For the soba, in another saucepan bring the water to boil and add the dried noodles. When the water boils add half a cup of cold water. When that boils, add another half a cup of cold water, and when that boils again, strain the noodles as they are done. Adding water to boiling water like that helps to retain a bite in the soba which can become soft quickly.
5. Reconstitute the wakame and thinly slice the green tops off the spring onions only.
1. Defrost the prawns, peel the shells from the neck to the top of tails, leaving shell on head and tail fan. De-vain then lay them on a chopping board with the back on the board. Lay your knife gently across the prawn belly lay and make 3 evenly spaced cuts. Do not cut the prawns in half; you are simply weakening the meat for the next stage.
2. Turn the prawns over and straighten them by gently pulling from both ends.
3. Sieve the flours into to a bowl (keeping some starch for the prawns) and add the cold water – do not use a whisk to mix or a fork! Use chopsticks and turn the mix no more than 10 times (this is not fish and chip batter!). Add 5 ice cubes to the mix.
4. Now heat a fryer with clean oil. The key to tempura is clean oil and the tempura batter mixed in stage 3 – that’s it! Dirty oil does not make tempura. In specialist tempura shops in Japan the oil will be changed during service!
5. Dust a prawn with a little of the retained starch then slowly lower into the oil, waving it gently through the oil left to right 3 times. This will create ‘waves’ in the finished batter. Do not overload the batter – do 2 prawns at a time as you want the oil to retain its high temperature. With a sieved stainless steel spoon remove the tempura ‘scraps’ (Tenkasu) and keep.
1. Now to assemble the dish! Put your soba in the bowl, add your hot stock first then wakame, spring onions, sliced kamaboko, a pinch of the ‘scraps’ (Tenkasu) and finally 2 tempura prawns. Enjoy and Happy New Year … Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu!
Ronald Laity is Mizkan’s Culinary Development Chef. A lifelong foodie, he has worked as a lobster fisherman, fishmonger, cheese maker and dairy hand, before finally falling in love with Japanese culture and cuisine, immersing himself in Japan for 6 years. Since being back, Ron has contributed to the UK Japanese Culinary scene, whether at Yakitoria, Samurai Sushi, Senkai, Feng Sushi, Bincho Yakitori and United Ramen, before joining Mizkan. Ron loves experimenting with authentic Japanese ingredients and developing new ways to bring those flavours to life.
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