Wednesday, 31 August 2011

YO! TEMPURA!

Tempura is a Japanese dish consisting of various kinds of fish, vegetables and shellfish coated in a light batter and deep-fried. But you knew that didn't you?

Tempura is quick to prepare and make, and is a brilliant supper dish for weekdays. I particularly like aubergine batons, king prawns, squid and sweet potato done this way. If I'm at Yo! Sushi, where, if dining with my son, I can be guaranteed to spend no less than £40 on a lunch which is basically self-service, I usually order the soft-shell crab in tempura. You can make your own tempura at home. You don't need specialist equipment, though a deep-fat fryer is useful; otherwise, use a deep frying pan or saucepan filled with vegetable or sunflower oil. The only other proven tricks are to use ice-cold water, preferably fizzy or soda, to make the batter and not to beat the batter too much - it should be lumpy as this encourages air bubbles to form and keeps it light and crispy. Keep the pieces to be fried fairly small and fry in batches - to quote from the film Julie Julia, "don't crowd the mushrooms!". I usually serve tempura with sweet chilli sauce and a dipping sauce made from soy sauce. Because the frying process is somewhat labour-intensive, I do not reommend making tempura as a main course for more than 2 people. It's important to serve it as soon as it's done, otherwise the batter can go soggy.

Jamie Oliver, in his own inimitable way, has a good recipe for upmarket tempura on his website. He even makes his own batter, the pukka chap, but I buy a ready-made powder and just add water

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