Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vegetable Tempura and Cold Green Tea Soba

Just like any "kid" in a Japanese family, my American husband gets really excited when I make tempura. Home-style tempura is rustic and it's like our soul food. I always loved my mom's tempura as I was growing up. Whenever we did tempura in our family, we (or mostly I) couldn't wait until my mom finished frying everything and just started eating as the ingredients were fried.

I've seen many different recipes of tempura before, but my tempura recipe has always been the very straight-forward "no trick" kind and I always love the result. For lunch on a hot Sunday afternoon, I made vegetables tempura and served with cold green tea soba. Kabocha and lotus root were cut into 1/4" thickness. Lotus root slices were soaked in cold water for about 5 minutes, then drained and patted dry.

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Each ingredient was fried separately. It smelled so nice as the vegetables were cooked. I used the whole wheat flour for the batter, so I liked the color and texture of the finished crust.

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Once everything was ready, we set up our lunch at our patio table. The same dipping sauce (my shojin dipping sauce) was used for both soba and tempura. The condiments were plum salt, grated daikon, shredded nori, young ginger, minced scallion, and Kyoto black shichimi. Tempura was so crispy and packed with flavors and we just couldn't stop eating. Just the tempura with the plum salt made the very nice complete taste, too.

What a wonderful lunch! I got so full and so energized.

So, here's my simple tempura recipe:

Vegetable Tempura with Dipping Sauce

200 ml whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg plus cold water to make 200 ml together
oil for frying (I combine vegetable oil and olive oil)
some kabocha pumpking, sliced into 1/4" thick
some lotus root, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/4" thick
some haricot vert or green beans

(dipping sauce)
200 ml dashi stock
40 ml mirin
40 ml soy sauce

your choice of condiments, such as seasoned salt, grated daikon, etc.

1. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, egg and water. Whisk by chopsticks. Add more water if the batter is too thick. It's okay for the batter to be somewhat lumpy. Don't whisk too much as the batter would get too dense.
2. In a large enough pot, heat the oil to 350F degrees. Coat the ingredients in the batter lightly and fry for about 2-3 minutes for kabocha and rotus, and 1.5-2 minutes for haricot vert. (For haricot vert, make bundles of 4-5 pods each to fry.)
*Fry each kind of ingredients separately. Do not overcrowd the frying oil.
3. Serve with the dipping sauce and condiments.

(Making dipping sauce)
1. Combine the dashi stock, mirin, and soy sauce in a pot. As soon as it starts boiling, turn off the heat.
2. Cool down (to cold or room temperature).