Eating Seasonally with Chef Owada: Shunbun "Spring Equinox" (March 20)

Higan Soba with Tempura Onion

Ingredients & Method (serves 2)

Amount Ingredient
160g (about 2 bundles) soba noodles
1 medium onion (about 150g)
oil for frying
For the tempura batter
⅓ cup + 1 tbsp. ice water
½ cup flour for batter
2 tbsp. flour to coat onion pieces
For shoujin (vegan) broth
4 cups water
10g (about 2 flat sheets) dried kombu
10g (about 2) dried shiitake
10g (1 heaping tbsp.) dried red beans
15g (1½ tbsp.) dried soy beans
For the soup broth
3 cups Shoujin (vegan) broth
4½ tbsp. mirin
4½ tbsp. soy sauce
Garnish with chili pepper or whatever else you like.
  1. Prepare the shoujin broth (refer to the section below.)
  2. Combine the ingredients for the soup broth and bring to boil on stove.
  3. Cut the onions and make the tempura. (refer to the section below.)
  4. Boil the soba noodles, and place in a bowl with the prepared soup both. Top with the tempura, and it's finished!

To make the Shoujin broth

  1. Place all ingredients for shoujin broth into a container, and soak overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat on high while removing any scum that surfaces. Just before it comes to a boil, put on low heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain through a sieve.

To make the onion tempura

  1. Slice the onions into thick slices.
  2. Sift both flours.
  3. Place the broken up onion slices into a bowl and coat with the 2 tbsp. of flour.
  4. In a separate bowl, make the batter by adding 100mL of ice water to the ½ cup flour and combine. Pour batter over dusted onion pieces.
  5. Lay onion bunches on individual slices of parchment paper, and fry at 180°C (350°F). Remove the parchment paper after turning once.

It's done!!

Tips from Chef Owada!

  • Around the time of the Spring Equinox, known as the spring higan in Japanese, there are customs in Japan of visiting ones' ancestors' graves, and eating shoujin ryouri—traditionally vegan meals eaten by ascetic monks. During this period, offerings are given to Buddha, and people eat a type of mochi called bota-mochi, where glutinous rice dumplings are surrounded with red bean paste. There are also households which make higan soba or udon topped with store bought or even wild-picked vegetables (ferns, etc.!) In keeping with the shoujin theme, this recipe uses a broth containing no animal products. However, if you prefer to substitute regular bonito fish broth, it is just as delicious.

  • One of the seasonal foods eaten during this time are freshly picked onions. If you search supermarkets in Canada during the spring and summer, you might be able to find "sweet onions" which are similar! They are softer with a high water content, so they become quite juicy when cut thickly and deep-fried.

  • This recipe only uses onions, but I also recommend adding a variety of things, such as sliced gobou burdock root, carrots, leeks, bamboo shoots, ginger, shrimp, chicken and more! By dredging each ingredient with flour and coating with a thicker batter, it will not fall apart when fried.

Wine Pairing: Tsurunuma Harvest Special Cuvée Pinot Blanc 2019 Hokkaido Wine Co., Ltd.

Tsurunuma Harvest Special Cuvée
Pinot Blanc 2019 Hokkaido Wine Co., Ltd.
Barrel-aged for one year.
A white wine with beautiful acidity that reflects the cool climate, and is also very drinkable.
The gentle tannins and beautiful acidity make the flavor of the onion tempura richer.
Enjoy the harmony between the crisp shoujin broth and soba noodles.