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Tempura originated in Japan, but it’s said that Europeans actually introduced the idea to the Japanese, who adopted it and refined it into a style of cooking. Typically, a tempura meal is one of fish, shrimp, and vegetables served with a dipping sauce.
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- 1 cup Flour / Flour Mixture (see Notes below)
- 1 Extra-Large Egg White
- ¾ cup Soda / Seltzer Water
- ½ tsp. Sea Salt
- 2-3 cups Oil for frying (of your choice), see notes below
- Preheat your oil to 350 F. Be sure your pot has sufficient room to accept your batter-dipped foods and cook them without the boiling oil spilling over the edge. That would NOT be good.
- Have a second bowl with another cup of your flour mixture to pre-flour your products before dipping in your tempura batter.
- Pre-cut fish into 1” x 2” pieces and not too thick (about ½” to ¾” at best). Vegetables (all raw) such as green beans should be whole; broccoli and cauliflower should be 1” florets; and sweet potato and eggplant should be cut in small wedges or sticks. Shrimp should be peeled and deveined, with the tail on.
- Now, in a small bowl, beat the cold egg white until frothy and add the remaining ingredients.
- Mix with a fork or chopsticks until generally mixed with small lumps. DO NOT OVERMIX. Depending on your preference, a thicker batter (like the consistency of a pancake batter) will coat easier but be chewier when fried. A thinner batter (almost like heavy cream or egg nog) will give you a lighter, crispier final product.
- Flour each product and then place it in the tempura batter. Briefly shake off excess and place them (carefully) in the hot oil. Avoid crowding the products or placing them one on top of another.
- Fry about (3 to 5 minutes) or until crispy and light golden in color. Then remove with a skimmer and drain excess oil off of the products by placing them on absorbent paper towels.
- Serve immediately with a dipping sauce of choice.
To make the BEST tempura, you want to do this
- 1. Use ICE cold water (or soda/seltzer water) and keep the batter cold.
- 2. Don’t mix it too much. Leave small lumps. The purists use chopsticks to mix.
- 3. Make your tempura batter JUST before you use it.
- 4. Fry in 350 F oil.
- 5. Serve immediately.
As for the ingredients, to make the BEST tempura, use these
- 1. Cake flour or all-purpose flour (low-gluten flour) — I also like rice flour, and sometimes I mix it in ½ and ½ with either of the above flours. You can also use a tablespoon of cornstarch per cup of flour to lighten the batter and add crispness.
- 2. Soda or seltzer water instead of tap water — The carbonation will make the batter lighter and lacy-like (which is good).
- 3. Sea salt (avoid using iodized salt) — It tastes better.
- Use neutral oil. Either canola or vegetable is fine. If you’re looking for something even MORE authentic, my recommendation would be peanut oil with a splash of sesame oil (about 1 TBSP sesame oil per cup of peanut oil).
Nino Salvaggio https://www.ninosalvaggio.com/