Tempura battered meats and vegetables are a guilty pleasure of mine, though I’ve never taken the time to make them myself. I generally avoid deep frying anything at home. Tonight was the exception.
Tempura batter is distinctly different from the standard Western format of deep frying: tempura is lighter, “air-ier”, crunchy without being hardened. It also tends to taste less oily.
It’s also great for such a broad range of food: shrimp, chicken, beef and every dense vegetable you can imagine. Add a light sauce, or simply soy, and serve over a bowl of simple rice.
- 1 cup white flour (use cake flour if you can)
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1 egg white
- 1 1/2 cup unflavored sparkling/soda water
- 1 tbsp salt
Prepare the batter immediately before frying. Gently whisk all ingredients in a bowl.
Bring a 3″ deep pot of sesame oil to 175F, using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. This will take constant adjustment to your heat source as the oil cools when the food is added and the density of the oil changes while cooking. If you have an electric or conductive range with temperature control, this is where it would really come in handy.
Lightly coat each piece of meat, fish or vegetable in the batter and gently shake to remove excess. Gently fling into the oil – one piece at a time, approaching close to the surface of the oil, and away from you. Place a few pieces in the oil, allowing plenty of room for the battered food to cook. Too many and the oil will cool too rapidly and you’ll have the items stuck to each other.
Fry for 3-4 minutes, max. Turn half way through with a chopstick or fork.
Remove with a frying strainer and allow to rest on a wire rack with at least 1/2″ of space between the rack and a paper-lined pan below. This allows the excess oil to exit the food.
Serve warm over a bed of rice or noodles, with a light dipping sauce of your preference.