Monday, September 20, 2010

Tempura


Aaah Japan. Home of anime, fashionable teens, martial art and geishas. And of course the food: sushi, fragrant miso soup, chewy udon noodles, pretty-in-pink pickled ginger, sticky rice and tofu. And even though I love all of the above (miiiiiiiissssoooo), I can see how it can be slightly intimadating for the average, slightly unadventurous Westerner. After all, raw fish and fermented bean curd isn't quite in our frame of reference. We tend to focus more on hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza. You know, the more substantial things in life. 

Enter tempura. Who doesn't love a crunchy deep fried morsel? I get giddy just thinking about the deep fried goodness that is KFC. Although the typical heavy, greasy taste tends to get to me pretty fast. Not so with tempura. It features a light, delicate texture that perfectly showcases the freshness of the vegetable being used.

Now, on principle, I don't deep fry foods simply because of the fuss involved. I just can't be bothered to heat up a truck load of oil, deal with the splattering and sputtering and devise some method of oil drainage afterwards. Especially as usually it's just not worth it.

But if you're talking tempura, I can be persuaded to set my prejudice aside for a few minutes. Oh yes I can and I did. The nice thing about it is that the batter takes about 30 seconds to make and then fries up super fast. It's literally a matter of seconds and not minutes before the batter is cooked. Which removes quite a bit of the usual deep frying hassle as you only have to deal with it for perhaps 10 minutes tops, which includes frying all your batches and then re-crisping them one last time before serving.  

Served with a sprinkling of seasalt or a flavourful dipping sauce, tempura is definitely one of life's simple pleasures. Sharing is optional though. In fact, I didn't. What? TheHusband wasn't home. You snooze, you lose.
Blazing Hot Wok
I am submitting this to the barrel of laughs that is Joanne of Eats Well with Others, who hosts Regional Recipes. September's chosen country is Japan and entries can be submitted until the end of the month.

Tempura
Adapted from About.com

1 egg
1 cup ice cold water
1 cup all purpose flour
vegetable oil, for deepfrying
veggies of your choice (I used asparagus)*

1. Gently mix egg, water and flour together in a bowl, using a fork. Be careful not to overmix else the gluten will be activated and the finished tempura will not have the correct appearance or texture. In fact, you can err on the side of undermixing with still a few clumps in the batter, to give that typical knobbly look to the tempura.
2. Fill pot several inches deep with oil and heat on the highest setting. Use a piece of bread to test whether the temperature is correct - if it starts to sizzle when you put it in, the oil is hot enough.
3. Meanwhile, cut your veggies into bite sized pieces. When the oil is hot enough, coat the vegetables with the batter and immediately drop into the hot oil. This should be done in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pot and drop the temperature of the oil too much. The tempura will only take a few seconds to cook, after which it can be removed with a slotted spoon and drained on paper towels. 

Serve immediately, while still crisp and warm, with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, sugar and mirin. Although, it would be equally delightful (if slightly unorthodox) if served with sri-racha.

*The batter is sufficient for quite a lot of vegetables, so be prepared to make quite a few batches. I fried two bunches of asparagus (like the one in the photo) and still had some leftover batter. It can be kept overnight in the fridge at a push, although the consistency changes slightly. 

It's very important that the water is ice cold to produce that delicate tempura structure. If you are making large quantities of tempura at the same time, slightly undercook the first few batches and then return to the oil to crisp up again just before serving. I've found this also helps keep the tempura crisp for much longer.

22 comments:

Nina on September 20, 2010 12:10 p.m. said...

This is brilliant. Fantastic photography!!!

Janice said...

Oh you are sooo right Marisa - i just loooove tempura's lightness! You never feel bloated and heavy after tempura - green beans tempura is a firm fave of mine!! xxxx jan

Tandy on September 20, 2010 1:26 p.m. said...

This is worth a try! You are going to have to come over and teach my tricks with my camera :)

Colleen said...

Beautiful...just beautiful. Please tell what the berries are in the background.....

5am Foodie on September 20, 2010 1:42 p.m. said...

By strange coincidence I just happen to have a fryer at home at the moment and was toying with the idea of making some tempura for dinner. Well, you've pretty much convinced me! Butternut squash and aubergine tempura it is. I like the idea of having a slightly alternative dipping sauce with some chili in it.

Kulsum @ JourneyKitchen said...

When ever I deep fry there are two things - My husband is into Bhujia/pakoda (Indian chickflour fried veggies) and I love the light crispiness of tempura. We call it a Chini-Hindi Day! (even though tempura is not Chinese!)

Marisa on September 20, 2010 2:03 p.m. said...

I love how versatile this is - you can basically use any veggies you like!

Marisa on September 20, 2010 2:03 p.m. said...

Um... neighbourhood plundered tree berries? :-) They're not edible I think. Just looked pretty.

Marisa on September 20, 2010 2:03 p.m. said...

Have been meaning to try Bhujia - when I get up the courage to deep fry again, that is definitely on my to-do list. :-)

Marisa on September 20, 2010 3:43 p.m. said...

Yup, you caught me! :-)

Mindy on September 20, 2010 3:45 p.m. said...

Ah-ha, hence the tweets about Japanese food. Love Japanese food and love tempura!

Lana on September 20, 2010 3:53 p.m. said...

Love your colour and styling, as always! And man, how did you find that old post of mine today? hahaha! Thanks for your comment and for popping in Marisa x!

Marisa on September 20, 2010 4:17 p.m. said...

This is what happens when you're not very diligent about keeping your google reader relatively clean. :-)

sam said...

I love tempura - this looks wonderful and easy.

Arnold on September 20, 2010 7:05 p.m. said...

When I visit your site the first thing I always notice is the great photos. The Tempura looks great, but then again, I am crazy about anything that contains fresh asparagus.

Faith on September 21, 2010 12:04 a.m. said...

I've never made tempura, but it's something I love to eat out! I also love it's lightness. I'll have to try this at home.

Joanne on September 21, 2010 2:37 a.m. said...

Ahh tempura! One of the few deep fried foods that I'll actually eat. I've always wondered how you get it to taste so light...unlike most fried food. Guess I'll have to find out and try this recipe! Thanks so much for sending it to Regional Recipes!

Marisa on September 21, 2010 8:46 a.m. said...

Thanks Arnold! That really puts a smile on my dial.

mummy's kitchen said...

Ohhh I'm hungry now! So pleased to have found your beautiful blog, the photos are just gorgeous.

Miriam/The Winter Guest on September 22, 2010 3:04 p.m. said...

Wow, I love tempura, but maybe because it comes from Portugal and it's a very Mediterranean way of cooking, perfected by the Japanese. I'm afraid I'm one of those unadventurous Westerners ;), even though I rave about Indian cooking, for example.

Eliana on September 24, 2010 6:51 p.m. said...

I love making tempura everything! It's so easy and adds such an extra special touch to just about anything. This asparagus looks awesome and the great thing is that we can use the same method for just about any veggie as you said.

Joanne on November 05, 2010 11:14 p.m. said...

Marisa! So sorry about that! I think that the submission got lost in my email. It is now posted though! Hope the unpacking and settling into the new home is going well!

Add something to the Pot:

Thank you for taking the time to read & comment. There's only one thing I love more than cooking (& eating) and that's feedback from you! Please note that there might be a slight delay before your comment appears.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
 

The Creative Pot © Marisa H 2006 - 2011 Adaption of Cookiez Template, designed by Ipietoon for Free Blogger Template