Tempura: asparagus and yam
I have been having a lot of fun in the kitchen and lately also trying dishes I have never made before. We recently spent a week in the BC mountains hiking and biking (Sun Peaks, post to come) and our days consisted of all day hikes (or biking) and then dinner at night at one of the several restaurants in the small Austrian style village. Food mostly left some to be desired except for one place, a small Japanese restaurant named Oya, that we went back to a few times. One of the dishes we had for an appetizer was light as a feather tempura and it inspired me to make some at home today.
Tempura is a dish of vegetables or seafood dipped in light batter and deep fried. It is served with a soy based dipping sauce. The story goes that it was developed in the 17th century after Portugese sailors posted to a trading post in Japan made a green bean recipe called peixinhos da horta that evolved into what we know as tempura today.
Tempura batter is very light and crisp and not at all oily. I made mine with self rising cake flour as the addition of baking powder lightens it quite a bit. I also used sparkling water instead of regular water to air the batter further. When mixing the batter, don’t over mix it, you don’t want to eliminate all the air bubbles in it. A few lumps are okay.
I partially cooked the sweet potatoes in its skin first, not to fully cook it but just to give it a head start, but reading recipes, it is not necessary to do it, you can use the raw potato.
Other vegetables will work just as well so you may want to try what you have on hand, green or yellow beans, carrots etc.
1 cup self rising cake flour or 1 cup[ cake flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 cup naturally sparkling water
Sweet potato or yam
Green and yellow beans
Oil for frying
4 cups canola oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
Prepare the vegetables:
Cut the vegetables into pieces to your liking:
- Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and then slice horizontally into 1/4 inch slices.
- Cut the asparagus in half on the diagonal.
- Cut the carrots into 1/4 inch slices on the diagonal.
- The beans, depending on size, can be left whole or cut in half.
To make the batter:
Place flour and salt in a bowl, add the sparkling water and mix with a fork without disturbing the bubbles that form. A few lumps are okay.
Add 4 cups vegetable oil such as canola to a deep pot and heat to 375ºF.
Best to work with one vegetable at a time. Place the asparagus in the batter and gently mix.
Using a thin kitchen tong pick up each asparagus and drop gently into the hotl oil.
Fry until crisp and just beginning to turn golden.
Remove to a paper-lined plate to drain.
Continue with remaining vegetables until done.
Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.