Almost any seafood or vegetables (including pumpkin, baby eggplant and sweet potato) can be served as tempura. To ensure a thin crisp batter, keep the eggs and water in the fridge until the last minute and make the batter just before using. Only fry small amounts at a time, allowing the oil to come back to temperature before adding the next batch – and serve the tempura as soon as it’s cooked. Tempura paper is absorbent paper available from Asian grocery stores.
Serves 6 as an entrée
6 green prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
6 x 50g pieces hussar, skin off
1 red onion, peeled
6 green beans, trimmed
6 slices peeled carrot,
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Plain flour, for dusting
Tempura Dipping Sauce
1 teaspoon dashi granules (see notes)
1 cup water
⅓ cup mirin (see notes)
⅓ cup light-coloured soy sauce
¼ cup grated daikon
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 cold egg yolk, lightly beaten (see above)
1 cup cold soda water (see above)
½ cup plain flour
½ cup cornflour
Make three shallow cuts on underside of each prawn, to prevent curling.
Cut onion in half from root end. Place on a chopping board cut-side down and insert a row of toothpicks at 1cm intervals down the centre, pushing them through to the board. Slice between the toothpicks to cut into 1cm-thick slices.
Make Tempura Dipping Sauce: place dashi and water into a bowl and stir until dissolved, stir in mirin and soy sauce. Divide between 6 small dishes. Squeeze daikon well to extract excess liquid. Press gently into 6 pyramid shapes and place 1 pyramid in the centre of each dish of sauce. Place a small mound of ginger on top of each pyramid.
Make Tempura Batter: beat egg and water together, stir in plain and corn flours until just combined - it should still be lumpy.
Heat oil to 180ºC, if you don’t have a thermometer, test by dropping in a small amount of batter, if it drops just below the surface of the oil, then bounces back to the surface, it’s ready.
Working in batches, and skimming oil between batches to remove any batter, dust onion, lightly in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in batter, drain off excess, lower into oil, deep-fry for about 2½ minutes, until lightly golden, then drain well on paper towel. Repeat with beans and carrot, frying for about 1½ minutes, then prawns and fish, frying for about 1 minute.
Arrange on a platter lined with tempura paper and serve immediately with individual bowls of dipping sauce.
Dashi is a clear Japanese soup, used in much the same way as stocks are in western cooking. It can be homemade, but instant granules or liquid concentrates, available from Asian grocers, are often used in the same way as stock cubes. Mirin is a sweet Japanese fortified rice wine used for cooking. True mirin (labelled ‘hon mirin’) contains alcohol, so what is available in supermarkets and Asian grocery stores, and normally used, is non-alcoholic ‘mirin seasoning’.
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