TEMPURA —— vegetables, meat or seafood coated in light batter and deep fried —— are the Japanese equivalent of Indian bhajiyas. These Japanese delicacies are airy and light when made with finesse. There are many tricks to getting it right. Using ice water to make the tempura batter is the key. Chef Hem Kumar Shrestha of Tim Tai restaurant in Koramangala, who has shared these recipes, says, “Normally, we use tempura flour but you could substitute it with a mix of refined flour, baking powder and salt for a light batter.” Keeping the batter ice-cold and not over-mixing will ensure crisp tempura. Keeping the oil uniformly hot while frying —- ideally at 165 degrees C to 175 degrees C —- will ensure that the tempura is cooked evenly and quickly. Some of the ingredients such as tempura flour, Dashi powder (used to make soup or stock), Mirin (a clear, sweet-sour sauce), wood ear and King Oyster mushrooms will be available at speciality or gourmet stores.
Tips For Crispy Tempura : * Make the batter right before frying to avoid activation of wheat gluten. *Add 1-2 ice-cubes in the batter or place the batter bowl in a larger bowl containing ice-water in order to keep the batter all the time. *While tempura is being fried, moisture from the ingredients will be evaporated and tempura will become crispy. However, if the ingredients have extra moisture, the tempura will become soggy after being deep fried. *When you put too many items in the oil, the temperature will drop quickly. So fry in batches.
Prep –10-15mins, Cook — 5mins (serves 2)
Ingredients: 6 pieces of large prawns, corn starch for dusting, oil for deep frying, 1 cup (240ml) ice water, 250gms tempura flour.
Method : To make the batter, add ice water o the flour (if tempura flour is not available, use refined flour and add a few pinches of baking powder and salt). Beat vigorously with chopsticks until it foams on the surface. Do not over-mix If there are some lumps in batter, it’s not a problem. Keep the batter on a bed of ice. Dust corn starch on top of prawns. Dip them in the batter. Deep fry the prawns in hot oil one by one.
Prep -10-12mins, Cook–5mins
Ingredients: 8 pieces baby corn, 1 cup (240ml) ice water, 250gms tempura flour.
Method : Wash and dry baby corn. Cut lengthwise into 4 pieces. Make the batter as per the instructions given above. Dip the baby corns in the batter. Heat oil in a pan and when it is sufficiently hot, dip each baby corn in the batter and deep fry it in batches. Drain it on an absorbent paper to remove the excess oil. Serve with wasabi mayonnaise sauce.
Prep—10-15mins, Cook–5mins (serves 2)
Ingredients: I small Japanese sweet potato (you could use regular sweet potato too), 1/4 medium pumpkin, 2-inch peeled lotus root, 2 King Oyster mushrooms, I eggplant, 1 cup (240ml) ice water, 250 gms tempura flour.
Method : Slice the sweet potato into thin pieces and soak in water for 15-30mins to remove extra starch. Then dry them using paper towels. Cut pumpkin and lotus root into thin slices. Soak lotus root in vinegar water (2 cups water +1tsp vinegar). Cut King Oyster mushrooms into thin slices. Discard the head of eggplant, then cut it into half lengthwise. Then cut the eggplant lengthwise into very thin slices. Make tempura batter. Dip vegetables in the batter in batches and deep fry in hot oil.
STUFFED CHICKEN WINGS
Ingredients: 6-8 chicken wings, 200gms minced chicken, 100gms medium-sized water chestnuts cut into small pieces, 120gms glass noodles, 5 coriander roots, few pinches white pepper powder, 2tbsp Oyster sauce, 1tbsp light soya sauce, 1/2tsp sugar, 30gms dried wood-ear mushrooms, 1 egg beaten, salt and pepper, I cup tempura flour, 1 cup (240ml) ice water.
Method : Soak the glass noodles in room temperature water for 10mins. Then drain thoroughly and cut into short strands. Soak the wood ear mushrooms in boiling water for 10mins. Then squeeze dry and chop into thin slices. Grind coriander root and white pepper in a mortar and pound until mixed thoroughly (or use a food processor) Then mix with minced chicken, water chestnuts, light soya sauce and sugar. Marinate for 30mins. Wash chicken in clean water and take out the bone (be careful not to tear the skin). Put the marinated mixture inside the chicken wings (already de-boned). Steam the stuffed wings for 8-10mins in a steaming basket. Make tempura batter. Dip the wings in the batter. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Fry the stuffed chicken wings until golden and crispy. Remove and drain.
These batter-fried Japanese delicacies are a treat for any occasion!