Tempura

Ingredients

  • 1 Eggplant (nasu)
  • 1 Onion (tamanegi)
  • 1 Carrot (ninjin)
  • 5 Small Okra (okura)
  • Meat *optional*
  • 1 Bell Pepper (piman)
  • 2 cups Tempura/Cake Flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp. Powdered Garlic

Recipe

Cut Onion, Carrot, and Bell Pepper in thin strips about two inches long, and place in a large bowl.  Bell Peppers can be cut thinner than the others, but generally you want everything to be about the same width and length.  Cut Okra very thinly and add to bowl.  Finally, Cut Eggplant the same as the carrot and peppers, you cut this last so that it does not brown.  If you want to add meat, cut it to roughly the same size and add it to the bowl.  Fish or pork work best.

In a large, deep pan, heat vegetable oil on medium heat.  While the oil heats add two eggs to the vegetable mix.  Then add flour and 1 tsp. salt and 2tsp. garlic.  Add 2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil here).  Add water and mix everything together by hand.  The result should be a relatively thick tempura batter.  Make sure that all the vegetables are coated, but that there are no big clumps of batter.

Check the oil temperature by dropping a batter covered onion in.  If it floats, the oil is ready.  Make sure you have a paper towel lined bowl or wire rack ready for the finished product.  Use your fingers to drop loose bunches of batter into the oil.  Make sure the individual bunches are not too big, and try not to compress them.  Keep the batter well mixed.  You don’t want all the vegetable spears pointing the same way in a big blob, they won’t cook through.

Using a long pair of chopsticks, turn your tempura over every so often to ensure even cooking.  Don’t over crowd your pan, a large skillet can hold four or five tempura at a time.  Keep your oil around medium heat.  When they turn lightly golden brown, take them out, letting the excess oil drip back into the pan.  Place on a wire rack or on paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt while still warm.  Plate and enjoy.  Best served warm.

Variations

One of the great things about tempura is you can use just about anything.  Feel free to try different vegetables.  I used okra and eggplant because they are in season.  Pumpkin is also a great choice, it goes well with the above vegetables.

You can also use the same batter for large pieces of one vegetable or meat rather than a mix of many.  Beans, pumpkin, and peppers work especially well this way.  If you replace the water with beer, you get a beer batter that works nicely as well.

For popcorn chicken add your favorite meat spice to the mix with beer instead of water.  Add very small chunks of chicken and fry away.