Tempura looks very simple to prepare, but as I found out, it is the most difficult! These took me a few goes to get just right, but even if you mess if up the first time they still taste delicious so at least nothing is wasted! The worst that can happen is that your tempura will lack crunch as will have soaked up too much oil. You’re trying to attain a nice crunchy finish – the trick is to use cold mix and very hot oil – easier said than done, trust me 😉 This dish is simply delicious and healthy too. We usually eat tempura with just a sprinkle of salt, or with men tsuyu (‘ten tsuyu’) which is a dipping sauce.
This is actually my mum’s recipe – normal vegetable tempura recipes just fry pieces of vegetable individually, but I think this way is both more interesting and satisfying.
1 cup flour
3/4 cup of very cold water with 4 ice cubes
Men Tsuyu (‘ten tsuyu’)
50ml soy sauce
2 cup water
3 small packets of katso bushi (fish flakes) – 9-10g
5-10cm dikon (Japanese radish – optional)
Juilenne the carrots and slice the onion. Place in a bowl and add a heaped tbs flour and mix well with your hands.
Put the water and ice cubes in another bowl, add the egg and stir gently (not whisk). Then sieve the flour in and stir slowly so not to create gluten and make the mixture too glue like.
Put a handful of the carrot mixture into a small bowl and add a tbs of the flour mixture. Mix gently, then add carefully into a frying pan filled halfway with vegetable oil. Make sure the oil is hot at around 180 deg. You can test with a toothpick – place the tip in and see if bubbles appear around it which will tell you the oil is hot enough. If the veggie mix tries to separate, bunch back together with some tongs. Keep adding batches of the veggie mix making sure not to let them touch each other, and turning when golden.
Put the mirin in a pot and bring to the boil. Then add the sugar, the water, soy sauce and fish flakes and bring to the boil again. Then reduce heat and simmer for 3 mins. After this, sieve into a bowl carefully.
If you can find a Japanese radish (dikon), grate one over the dipping sauce while it’s still warm.
If you like this recipe and get the hang of the method, you can start to use other vegetables and seafood – you just need to sprinkle them lightly with flour and dip in the mix before putting in the oil. Good luck!