Tempura is deep-frying at its best. The cooking method creates a light batter that doesn’t soak up a ton of oil. That, paired with the types of foods you fry (no meat could equal vegetarian), makes for a light meal. That’s why the Japanese were always trying to kill Godzilla: because of all the tempera they could make. Enough to feed Tokyo.
Things that you’ll want to cook:
- Shrimp—with belly muscles cut crosswise, so they lie flat (I was unsuccessful at this)
- Scallops—big ones, split lengthwise
- Onion—sliced 3/8” thick
- Green pepper—sliced 3/8” thick
- Carrots—angle sliced 3/8” thick
- Sweet potato—sliced 3/8” thick
- Lotus root—sliced 3/8” thick
- Mushrooms (preferably whole shiitake)
- Eggplant—sliced 3/8” thick
- Green beans—that have been blanched
- Shiso leaves—whole
- And here’s an idea I just thought off: Bacon–sliced into 2″-long pieces
You can mix and match these ingredients; just use what you like.
What you’ll need for the dipping sauce (highly recommended):
- 10 oz dashi
- 3T low-sodium soy sauce
- 2T mirin or mild sake
What you’ll need for the batter:
- 2 egg yolks
- 7oz ice water—this coldness is important
- 4 oz regular flour
What to do:
For the dipping sauce:
- Combine the three ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Keep warm until you serve the meal. You may want to give each person a small bowl of dip.
For the shrimp, veggies, etc.:
- Prepare the shrimp (or scallops) and ensure they’re dry.
- Slice the vegetables and ensure they’re dry
- If you’re cooking green beans, blanch them for a bit and dry them.
- In other words, get everything you’re going to fry prepped, dried and ready to go.
- At this point, you’ll want to heat up about 1-2” of vegetable oil in a safe pan to 325-340 degrees.
For the batter:
- Put the two egg yolks in a medium-size mixing bowl
- Add the ice-cold water and mix them—do not beat the eggs
- Add all of the flour and mix lightly (batter will be lumpy, but that’s OK)
Now you’re ready to fry:
- Dip a piece of whatever you’re going to fry in the batter.
- Shake off extra batter.
- Place in hot oil and cook for 3 minutes or so.
- Drain on paper towels when done.
- Repeat until everything’s cooked and you’re ready to eat.
- * Note: shiso leaves get batter only on one side, and about 1.5 minutes in the oil.
Serve with plain Japanese rice.