Hot oil burns my flesh(this is set to Japanese pop music) and then I deep fry a roll of paper towels!
I read cookbooks the way some women read romance novels, but I there are certain recipes that make me feel more like I'm reading a Stephen King novel. They fascinate and thrill me, but when I think about cooking them myself, I get scared.
So what am I afraid of? Lobsters attacking!? Sauces curdling!? Anything with live yeast!? Some complicated sounding French recipe, like Gigot d'Agneau à la Bretonne!? Yes! I mean, no! I mean Hell No! I am determined to conquer my culinary fears, and cook the very dishes that scare me most.
TempuraTips for Great Tempura
1. Keep the batter ingredients ice cold.
2. Don’t over beat the batter! You don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour, leading to a thick tough coating. We want it light and crispy.
3. Keep the oil hot, around 136 degrees F. Hot oil seals the outside of your coating, keeping it crispy. More tepid oil gives you the limp, greasy texture of bad burger stand fries.
Prepare the Tempura Vegetables and Seafood First
After trying all the vegetables, my favorite was the kabocha, a Japanese pumpkin. It becomes sweet and creamy with the crispy outer layer of batter. The scallions were also amazing-- just like onion rings, but a little fresher or cleaner tasting. I didn’t think the eggplant had much flavor, and the cilantro (which I usually love) was just weird and soapy tasting. I found that if I left the tempura pieces in the oil until very brown that although they were crispier, the vegetable flavor didn’t shine through – it just tasted like batter. It’s best to keep them a very light golden color.
1 zucchini, skin and cut into ¼” slices
1 Kabocha squash, the skin is edible so scrub well
1 bunch of parsley
Small handful of snow peas, leave whole
1 sweet potato or yam
1 red pepper, cut into 1 ½” by 1” pieces
Mushrooms, the best you can afford, wiped clean and if large sliced or halved
1 lb large raw scallops or raw, cleaned, peeled shrimp
The kabocha and sweet potato are so dense that I like to precook them a little in the microwave. Halve the kabocha, scoop out the seeds, and plate the halves along with the whole sweet potato. Poke a few holes in the potato with a knife and cover vegetables with wax paper. Microwave just until the flesh of each gives a little. Let cool until you can handle them and slice into ¼- ½ inch slices.
Prepare other vegetables and put all in a large bowl. All vegetables should be well dried so that the batter sticks. Rinse and pat dry scallops or shrimp.
This is good, but next time I’ll try a batter with some corn meal to replace some flour for a little crunchy texture to the coating.
1 large egg, chilled
3/4 cup ice water
capful sake (optional)
¾ cup all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons, chilled
¼ cup rice flour, cornstarch, or all flour, chilled (you can grind your own rice flour in a coffee/spice grinder or blender)
1 lemon, quartered
Vegetable oil to come up 2-3 inches in your pot
Pop the flour and rice flour into the freezer an hour or so before cooking to chill it quickly. Beat the egg and mix well into the ice water. Using chopsticks or a fork, gently blend in flours, until just combined, small lumps are ok. Heat oil to 365 degrees with a candy/fry thermometer, and preheat oven to 200 degrees. Put a large sheet pan in the oven to transfer the tempura to as you cook each batch.
Dip the vegetables into the batter. Let excess batter fall off. Carefully slide the battered vegetables into the hot oil. Let them brown on one side then gently flip them, using long metal tongs or a slotted spoon. Fry until they are a very light golden color. Save the scallops or shrimp until all vegetables are done, to keep the vegetables from taking on a fishy flavor. Lightly dredge seafood in the flour, shake off the excess, dip into batter, and slide into the oil.
Serve with lemon slices and my dipping sauce below.
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
hot Asian chili sauce, I use Sriracha brand
Mix soy sauce and hot sauce into dipping bowl of vinegar to taste.
Below are links to some of my very good recipes and funny things like spatchcocking and sex toys.
Cool photos of a shocking spatchcocking.
Dirty, dirty, dirty banana! Sex toys and my Quick Banana Bread with chocolate chips recipe.
I did not want to give out my dinner party secret weapon, but for you how could I say no. Here is my Nirvana Chicken Curry recipe. So easy, so good.
Simple Scrod recipe, yummy, quick and juicy. Scrod: a fish that isn't a fish.