An easy technique for making vegetable tempura at home
I found this fun taste of summer on Jordan Winery’s Twitter feed. Luckily, they let me share it with you! Designed to pair with a refreshing, well-chilled white wine, (like Jordan Chardonnay), this vegetable tempura recipe is a great vehicle for showcasing spring/summer bounty. At Jordan, they recommend trying such fresh-picked morsels as snap peas and their leaves. And in springtime, one of their favorites is fava beans. For summer, they use the aphrodisiac of heirloom tomatoes.
What is tempura?
Part of what makes this recipe a sensual pleasure is the tempura batter. A light variation on breading for deep frying, tempura is a Japanese tradition. Interestingly, according to the website of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, this traditional batter and frying didn’t come from Japan but originated in Portugal. This specific frying technique wasn’t adopted by Japanese cooks until the 1800’s.
Unlike other breading and frying methods, tempura uses no bread crumbs and less oil than standard frying. The simple batter is made from a base of 3 ingredients, cold water, flour and egg. And the resulting foods, typically seafood or vegetable tempura, cooked in this tempura batter are light with a crisp texture and no oily residue.
Chef’s tip to cooking vegetable tempura
One tip on frying. If you’re not an experienced fryer, take your time. Work slowly but efficiently. Most importantly, as you’re dropping your vegetable tempura into the oil, use a steady, almost sweeping motion away from your body. This will help prevent oil splashing toward your hand and arm while you work. Because you know what isn’t sexy? That would be angry, red burn marks. So keep a steady pace and indulge yourself in the rhythm of the kitchen.
Recipe for Spring & Summer Vegetable Tempura
- 1 lb vegetables and blossoms (such as snap peas and pea leaves, squash blossoms, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, fava beans, string beans, bell peppers, summer squash)
- 3 cups rice oil or canola oil
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 1/2 cup ice cold Japanese lager
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp Shichimi Togarashi
- Wash and dry vegetables and blossoms. Reserve on paper towels.
- In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the oil to 350º.
- To prepare the tempura batter, combine the ice water and beer in a bowl, then whisk in the egg. Using chopsticks, gently incorporate the flours, salt and Schichimi Togarashi. Do not overmix – small lumps are a good thing. Use batter as soon as possible.
- Dip the vegetables and blossoms into the batter, shaking off excess. Fry tempura until just golden brown.
- Tempura may be held in a 200º oven for no more than ten minutes before serving.
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