Tempura is a deep fried seafood or vegetable and this snack is very popular in Japan. It was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the middle of the sixteenth century. It is easy to make tempura yourself at home and popular tempura fillings include shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, bell pepper, sweet potato, onion, broccoli, banana eggplant, carrot, and squid.
Tips for the Best Tempura
It is very important to use ice water when making a tempura batter, because this stops the batter from absorbing excessive oil. Make the batter for your tempura just before using it. Tempura batter is not something that can be made ahead. Do not over-mix the batter or over-coat your ingredients.
If you are going to make seafood tempura and vegetable tempura, do the vegetables first at 340 degrees F and the seafood afterwards at 350 degrees F. Drop some batter in the oil to test the temperature. If it comes up immediately, without sinking to the bottom first, the oil is about 360 degrees F. If it sinks halfway and then pops up, the oil is around 340 degrees F, which is a good temperature to use.
Do not use very soft vegetables or other soft ingredients for making tempura because they will fall apart after cooking, when you serve them. If you are using shrimp, make a few cuts on the belly. This stops the shrimp from curling up while it cooks.
Tempura can be used to make other dishes or it can be eaten alone with a dipping sauce. You can make a tasty dipping sauce by combining three parts of dashi with one party of shoyu and one part of mirin. Soy sauce mixed with wasabi is also a good dipping sauce or you might prefer a satay sauce or sweet and sour sauce.
Alternatively, tempura can be served over steamed rice, over noodles or as a topping for udon soup. If you are catering for a buffet, tempura makes a great dish and you can serve it with a dipping sauce, with a variety of dipping sauces or just with some salt ground over it. Tempura works well as finger food, or you can serve it with chopsticks.
An Easy Recipe for Tempura
You will need:
- Seafood or vegetables
- 1 cup ice cold water
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 egg
- Oil, for frying
Stir the egg and ice water together in a bowl and the flour and baking soda in another bowl. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture and combine them. Do not worry about lumps in the batter.
Refrigerate the batter while you prepare the seafood or vegetables. Chop your vegetables into bite-sized pieces, peel, and de-vein the shrimp. Heat the oil in a skillet or pot.
When you drop a bit of batter into the oil, it should rise immediately to the top. Dip the vegetables and seafood into the batter and fry them in the oil, turning them over when the underside is golden brown. Drain the tempura on a paper towel.
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