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Tempura - Golden Crust?


notaste
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I'm no expert on Japanese cooking, but I understood katsudon to be a pork cutlet, breaded with panko and deep fried (and served with broth and noodles -- that's the "udon" part, right?) Other than the basic cooking technique, I don't get the connection. Tempura is a batter coating usually associated with vegetables and light protein -- shrimp and the like.

There's an earlier discussion on tempura here, with recipes and lots of tips. There seem to be two essentials: low protein starch in the batter (it sounds like rice flour works, as does a combination of cornstarch and wheat flour); and proper frying temperature.

Again, no expertise asserted, but I think tempura is supposed to be on the pale side. Certainly an egg yolk (included in a couple of recipes from the link above) would deepen the color, if that's what you're after. But maybe yours is coming out too dark?

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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I'm assuming the instructions are the same for katsudon?

Well, katsudon is a complete dish, as opposed to a single item. It's basically a contraction of Tonkatsu Donburi, or breaded pork cutlet (tonkatsu) over rice.

And Dave is correct -- tempura is "supposed" to be a light golden brown, while fried cutlets are generally a bit darker.

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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The most expensive/fancy tempura places I have been to in Japan tended to have almost white results, although crispy. I'm not sure that these places are necessarily using a "batter", per se, as at least one technique description for tempura I've read starts with ice in an egg-water mixture followed by a dip in cold flour, though in my experience it takes a lot of practice to get that right.

If you can't see the color of the vegetable or fish that you're frying, it's considered a bit of a flaw for tempura, but most casual tempura shops tend to have a coating a little bit more toward the golden end of the spectrum rather than white.

Tonkatsu is another beast altogether.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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to synthesize tips i got from different sources:

--*barely* stir the tempura batter--there will be lumps...

--a few ice cubes *in* the batter

--keep oil at steady, unwavering heat

--a mix of wheat and rice/corn flour does indeed work best

--fry in small portions, serve in small portions

good luck~! :smile:

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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yah...i kinda wanted to try to get the -don to have the same texture/color as tempura....hehe

If this happens then you have really done your tonkatsu wrong! :laugh:

Gus has hit all the right tips for tempura, very cold, barely mixed batter (made with very low protein four) and frying in small portoins at a steady heat.

Some people even suggest keeping the foods refrigerated as well.

And others swear by beer or soda water instead of regular water.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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According to Shizuo Tsuji and my recollection as a young boy in Tokyo, "Tokyo-style" tempura is cooked to a very light brown while "Osaka-style" is served white. I think the difference is not temperature (all fried tempura should be about 360-370 F), but the mixture of oil: Tokyo style has a signficant percentage of sesame oil mixed into the neutral vegetable/grapeseed oil. I admit my memory is pretty shaky, here, so Torakris should weigh in with the correct information.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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Russ Parsons suggests in his book "How to Read a French Fry" that, cooking oil needs some milage on it, for french fries to get a color. I always reuse oil and my tempura usually browns nicely, so...Maybe it's the same with tempura. Also, ice cold water might make a difference as well.

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yah...i kinda wanted to try to get the -don to have the same texture/color as tempura....hehe

If this happens then you have really done your tonkatsu wrong! :laugh:

Gus has hit all the right tips for tempura, very cold, barely mixed batter (made with very low protein four) and frying in small portoins at a steady heat.

Some people even suggest keeping the foods refrigerated as well.

And others swear by beer or soda water instead of regular water.

hehe...thanks....maybe i'll just try tempura batter on my tonkatsu...hehe

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According to Shizuo Tsuji and my recollection as a young boy in Tokyo, "Tokyo-style" tempura is cooked to a very light brown while "Osaka-style" is served white. I think the difference is not temperature (all fried tempura should be about 360-370 F), but the mixture of oil: Tokyo style has a signficant percentage of sesame oil mixed into the neutral vegetable/grapeseed oil. I admit my memory is pretty shaky, here, so Torakris should weigh in with the correct information.

Most of the best places will use 100% sesame oil as this is expensive the cheaper the place the less sesame oil that is used. At home I would often add a splash to the regular cooking oil.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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hehe...thanks....maybe i'll just try tempura batter on my tonkatsu...hehe

:laugh:

then you will have pork tempura. :raz:

The name difference is because of the batter/coating. A katsu will always have panko (bread crumbs) otherwise it is not a katsu.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks to the expert advice here, in the previous thread and in the cook-off, I felt able to try my first ever tempura at home yesterday.

Something that worked well:

Angelica leaf! This is Angelica archangelica, but doubtless the Japanese ashitaba (Angelica keiskei) would work too. Beautiful flavour. I was going to try the stems but ran out of time and oil...

Something that did not work:

Almost everything! I tried small daikon leaves, shungiku, yomogi (new autumn growth), thinly sliced raw carrot, sage and fennel leaves. The carrot (Japanese variety) worked well but I have these observations:

1. Flavour from most leaves was poor and often barely detetectable;

2. Everything tasted oily;

3. On some leaves, especially the fennel, the batter was un-cooked in the middle due to the thickness of the layer.

Many items spent 3 to 5 minutes in the oil and all were turned half-way through to crisp up both sides (I can hear some laughter...). I used a wok and the oil (sesame + sunflower mixed) was about 5mm deep at first, reducing as cooking proceeded. I used a whole egg, one cup of wheat-based self-raising flour and one cup of ice-cold tap water. The batter mixture looked ok to my un-trained eye but I suspect I should have used a small vertical-sided pan rather than a wok, to ensure a greater depth of oil. All leaves were used about 30 minutes after harvest. So some very basic questions please!

First, what is the recommended time any one item should spend in the oil?

Second, what would you suggest is the minimum depth of oil?

Third, are finely-segregated leaves like fennel, that tend to gather and retain a lot of batter, really suitable and is there a special technique for these?

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First, what is the recommended time any one item should spend in the oil?

Second, what would you suggest is the minimum depth of oil?

Third, are finely-segregated leaves like fennel, that tend to gather and retain a lot of batter, really suitable and is there a special technique for these?

The basic rules are:

Seafood requires higher temperature (around 180 C) and shorter time.

Vegetables require lower temperature (around 170 C) and longer time.

I found this info:

Squid: 185C, 1 min.

Shrimp, kisu (sand borer): 180C, 1-2 min.

Anago: 180C, 3-4 min.

Shiitake: 175C, 1 min.

Sweet potato: 170C, 3-4 min.

Carrot, green bean: 170C, 2 min.

from here (Japanese only)

The minimum depth is about 5-6 cm (2 inches), 4 to 5 times greater than the ingredient height.

The last question I really can't answer. You can't remove excess batter after you dip the leaves in the batter?? If you can't, why don't you finely chop them and mix with other ingredients to make kakiage?

Finally, many Japanese people recommend "Kotsu no iranai tempura ko" (tempura flour that does not require any skills), the right one in the second row.

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I usually fry items separately unless their cooking time is really similar... the maitake and arugula (ルコラ) I did recently required maybe a couple of minutes for the mushrooms but probably about 30 seconds for the arugula.

Of course, that means sometimes some items can get a bit cold by the time they are eaten, since I don't have an industrial size fryer at home... but then, I don't serve very big amounts anymore. Also, when I ate tempura at Japanese homes or, for example, in most ryokan meals, it tends to get cold :P

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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I usually fry items separately unless their cooking time is really similar... the maitake and arugula (ルコラ) I did recently required maybe a couple of minutes for the mushrooms but probably about 30 seconds for the arugula.

Of course, that means sometimes some items can get a bit cold by the time they are eaten, since I don't have an industrial size fryer at home... but then, I don't serve very big amounts anymore. Also, when I ate tempura at Japanese homes or, for example, in most ryokan meals, it tends to get cold :P

Your post reminded me of another important rule of tempura making: Order of frying.

The general order is: Vegetables first, seafood last.

Start with perilla leaves (often coated with batter on one side only) at a low temperature (around 165C) to keep them green, followed by vegetables (such as sweet potatoes :wub:) and kakiage, and finally seafood.

(Some people say "kakiage last", but I don't know why they say so.)

I think the tempura'ed items sold at supermarkets contain more katakuriko (potato starch) in their batter to keep them crunchy even when cool. But too much potato starch will make the coating hard rather than crunchy.

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edit: Mixed it up, I just saw the previous post.....

Should it be veggie then fish????? I'm confused now....

When making tempura, the chef should make a fresh batter every seating of guests, fish and shellfish are fried and served first (when oil is the hottest), then there is a progression to the vegetables, and as a last hurrah, the chef should take a heap of jullienned carrrots, cabbage, and daikon to soak up the last of the batter, then fry and serve the whole fritter to the guest.

Some of the more interesting things I've had: Lotus root with the holes stuffed with roe. Mountain potatoe with a bit of cream cheese stuffed inside, and these whole sand crabs (not more than an inch or two wide)

Edited by s_sevilla (log)
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edit:  Mixed it up, I just saw the previous post.....

Should it be veggie then fish?????  I'm confused now....

When making tempura, the chef should make a fresh batter every seating of guests, fish and shellfish are fried and served first (when oil is the hottest), then there is a progression to the vegetables, and as a last hurrah, the chef should take a heap of jullienned carrrots, cabbage, and daikon to soak up the last of the batter, then fry and serve the whole fritter to the guest.

Some of the more interesting things I've had:  Lotus root with the holes stuffed with roe.  Mountain potatoe with a bit of cream cheese stuffed inside, and these whole sand crabs (not more than an inch or two wide)

Don't be confused, s_sevilla. :biggrin:

I just described how tempura should be made at home not at a tempura restaurant.

The protein in seafood tends to deteriorate the oil, and that's why seafood should be fried last.

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