I enjoy vegetable tempura from time to time…My friend, Suvir Saran (a charming, skilled and successful chef, consultant and cookbook author), told me that his experiences eating tempura at Japanese restaurants have not been satisfactory. He has found that the dough is….
too thick, heavy, not crisp and the taste is oily. So, I prepared for him proper summer vegetable tempura using beets, zucchini, carrot, mushroom and zucchini flower. My tempura was light and crisp and highlighted the true flavor of each vegetable. It impressed him! Here are the keys to successful tempura.
No. 1 I cut vegetables thin slices. Thin vegetables cook quicker, remain crispy and taste light.
No.2 I use RICE BRAN OIL, which has high smoking point temperature. Canola oil is also good. Use new oil, if possible, or at leat not tired one.
No. 3 Use “tempura flour” (which contains starch to make it lighter and less gluten; you can find this particular flour at Japanese or Asian food stores) or mix your cake flour and cornstarch at a ratio of 80% and 20%.
No. 4 Mix flour with ice cold water to prevent gluten development and prepare it just before frying the vegetables. Tempura batter should have crepe dough like texture.
No. 5 Dust sliced vegetables in dry tempura flour or a mixture of cake flour and cornstarch before dipping them in prepared tempura batter.
No. 6 Cook vegetables in small batchesw at an oil temperature of about 340 degree F (depending on the thickness – thicker slice: decrease the temperature)
No. 7 Turn the vegetables only a few times during cooking.
No. 8 Serve prepared tempura with a dipping sauce (a mixture of dashi, shoyu and mirin – The Japanese Kitchen, page 67) along with lots of grated daikon radish which is rich in digestion enzymes.
Here is my favorite recipe:
1 cup tempura flour, mixed with 1 cup cold water; and 1/2 cup additional tempura flour for dusting
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
1 large beet, sliced
1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced
4 zucchini flower (you can stuff it with yoru favorite ingredients)
8 okra, cut into halves
Tempura dipping sauce and finhely grated daikon radish