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Tempura--Cook-Off 22


Chris Amirault
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Asparagus tempura is one of my very favorite things. Looks delicious, Jake!

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I think if I were using US flour, I might use 25-50% potato starch (or even cornstarch) for the batter. If you use too much potato/corn starch, the flavor is too bland, and the batter ends up more hard than crispy.

I once used all-cornstarch batter on some parsley as an experiment...it was so hard that it SHATTERED!

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Did Tsuji's tempura tonight instead of the requisite long weekend grillin' (it's Memorial Day here in the US):

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Made the dipping sauce with grated daikon, mirin, dashi, and light soy:

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Along with some edmame, I made the vinegared cucumber (kyuri no sumomi) in Tsuji's book:

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Did everything outside, served each round right to the table from the hot oil. Here are the sweet potatoes cooking:

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And the fiddleheads turned out fantastic; they went very well with the dipping sauce:

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You can see that, by the time I was cooking the shiitake, the batter started getting thicker, less lumpy:

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Here's a good comparison: onion slices with smooth batter and shrimp with the new, lumpy batter:

gallery_19804_437_83191.jpg

You can see that I've still got some practicing, as there are definitely brown spots due to oil that was a bit too hot at times. But given how humid it was, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out!

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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You can see that I've still got some practicing, as there are definitely brown spots due to oil that was a bit too hot at times. But given how humid it was, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out!

hmm.. I like it when it browns.. :blink:

looks great Chris!

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I like to use equal parts of rice flour and normal AP flour. I don't really work with a recipe, but to that I just add salt, baking powder, and club soda until it seems right.

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The other day, my wife was given three large sweet potatoes from her brother, which were harvested last winter :blink: , and today, she made imo ten (sweet potato tempura) with one of them. She didn't add any egg to her batter, but added some salt so the imo ten could be eaten without ten tsuyu (her usual style). Sweet potatoes are one of those tempura ingredients that should be thickly coated and deep-fried for a long time at low temperatures to bring out the sweetness. Kabocha are another such example. My wife also made chicken karaage... a somewhat silly combination. :biggrin:

gallery_16375_5_45970.jpg

I'd like to make some tempura myself when I have the time.

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My wife also made chicken karaage... a somewhat silly combination. :biggrin:

I'd take chicken karaage with tempura any day. What makes it a silly combination?

Like sushi, tempura is considered a very typical wa-shoku (Japanese dish) by the Japanese, while kara-age is not. The word kara suggests that kara-age is Chinese in origin. Other fries such as tonkatsu, korokke, and ebi (shrimp) fry are considered yo-shoku (Japanese-style Western dishes) by the Japanese, and will look rather strange if served together with tempura.

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Like sushi, tempura is considered a very typical wa-shoku (Japanese dish) by the Japanese, while kara-age is not.  The word kara suggests that kara-age is Chinese in origin.  Other fries such as tonkatsu, korokke, and ebi (shrimp) fry are considered yo-shoku (Japanese-style Western dishes) by the Japanese, and will look rather strange if served together with tempura.

Plus that's a lot of deep-fried food. Not my idea of a balanced home meal, by Japanese standards.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Like sushi, tempura is considered a very typical wa-shoku (Japanese dish) by the Japanese, while kara-age is not.  The word kara suggests that kara-age is Chinese in origin.  Other fries such as tonkatsu, korokke, and ebi (shrimp) fry are considered yo-shoku (Japanese-style Western dishes) by the Japanese, and will look rather strange if served together with tempura.

Plus that's a lot of deep-fried food. Not my idea of a balanced home meal, by Japanese standards.

Well, what I meant was that I would have made another type of tempura like kaki-age rather than chicken kara-age, but on that particular night, my wife wanted to make both imo ten and kara-age simply because she had been given some sweet potatoes and she had some chicken in the fridge.

Pam R, do keep ordering them together, like I keep adding corn to my salad. :biggrin:

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Pam R, do keep ordering them together, like I keep adding corn to my salad. :biggrin:

Sorry, Pam R, please continue ordering what you want. I rarely deep-fry, so that gives you an idea where I'm coming from.:wacko:

Hiroyuki, your comments about not mixing tempura and karaage are interesting. It would have never occurred to me, although it does make sense.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Pam R, do keep ordering them together, like I keep adding corn to my salad. :biggrin:

Sorry, Pam R, please continue ordering what you want. I rarely deep-fry, so that gives you an idea where I'm coming from.:wacko:

Thanks folks, I will :wink: .

I rarely deep-fry as well - which is why I think it's ok to order them both on occasion. To be truthful, while I have ordered them together in the past and will again in the future, it isn't something I do often. But they're so good!

Now back to the tempura cook-off. Who's frying next?

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  • 2 months later...

DEEP-FRIED SAGE LEAVES

The first time I had these was as an accompaniment to a veal chop. They're common in Tuscany, made with a remarkably light batter. The following recipe is adapted from several found on the internet. Next time around, I think I'd let the batter sit for a while so that the egg whites start the deflate. As stands, it is a bit thick but remarkably like Japanese tempera, puffing up like a blowfish when fried.

1/2 c sparkling water

1/2 c AP flour

VERY GENEROUS pinch of salt--I'd go for 1/4 t Kosher, maybe more

1 egg white

1 T olive oil

Leaves from a bunch of sage (plain old ordinary as opposed to lemon, etc.)

Vegetable oil of choice for deep frying (350-375 F)

Sift flour into seltzer. Mix. Add salt and oil. Beat egg white until stiff, then fold into batter. Spoon what doesn't pour into a shallow bowl.

Heat oil in frying pan, making sure the temperature is as high as specified to avoid eating savory grease monkeys.

Dip leaves into batter and fry in VERY small batches until golden on both sides. N.B. these little guys are ready almost as soon as they hit the oil, so really, 2-3 at a time is about all at least I could do at a time without over-cooking them. Drain on paper towel as you continue. You can always light your oven and heat them all together when you're through.

My batch was consumed in an unorthodox manner on top of a combo pseudo-pizza bianco with only fresh mozzarella on 2/3 of the dough and cherry tomatoes added in the Pugliese fashion as documented in detail by Franci down in the Italian forum and best left unadorned. (Cf. Cooking and Cuisine of Pugiia.)

When the leaves are eaten on their own, teeth first penetrate a crisp oily skin, enter a pocket of air, then herb, air, crisp oil skin. The strong mustiness of sage isn't immediately apparent given the hot lightness of the envelope; it takes a second for the tongue to pick it up and provoke the "wow" or whatever you say to yourself when pleasantly surprised by something in your mouth. With the pizza, you compromise your health further with new forms of fat and grease, but the bite is prolonged and complicated by the addition of the thin coat of molten mozzarella, chili pepper flakes, a little grated Parmesan and the thicker crispness of the crust.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 3 months later...

I finally got round to making some tempura and soba (buckwheat noodles) for supper last night.

My plan was to make four different types of tempura, together with tentsuyu (tempura dipping sauce) and soba, in one hour, with a little help from my wife. Actually, it took me one and a half hours from start to finish because my wife was out when I was making them. :sad: Besides, I had to take photos, which took me some extra time.

First, equipment:

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The left pair of chopsticks, the biggest one, is for stirring tempura batter.

Oil:

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For this cook-off, I used canola oil (left bottle). I usually use salad oil (middle), which is cheaper. I never use sesame oil (right) for tempura; it's too expensive!

Outline of my initial plan:

First, complete steps 1 to 3 in half an hour:

1. Make tentsuyu (dipping sauce).

2. Boil soba. Have my wife arrange it on a sieve.

3. Make all preparations for:

Sweet potato

Aojiso aka ooba (perilla leaves)

Carrot, onion, and ko-ebi (small shrimp) kakiage

Vannamei shrimp (white shrimp)

Then, do the following in another half hour:

1. Put oil in the fryer and turn on heat.

2. Start making batter.

3. Make tempura.

Details:

1. Tentsuyu

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Ingredients:

600 ml water

2 tsp instant dashi powder

150 ml soy sauce

150 ml mirin ("mirin-style seasoning", to be exact, which is alcohol-free and less expensive than real mirin)

(The dashi/soy sauce/mirin ratio is 4:1:1, which is quite typical if you have tempura with rice or soba. If you have it with sake, however, you may want to use a different ratio like 7:1:1.)

Put them all in a pot, bring to a boil, and turn off heat.

I also used the tentsuyu as mentsuyu (noodle dipping sauce).

2. Soba

gallery_16375_5_30722.jpg

Sorry for the poor presentation. My wife is very good at arranging it beautifully on a sieve, making 20 or more coils of soba. I can never do that!

3. Preparations for tempura:

a. Sweet potato:

Cut it into 1 cm (0.4 inch) thick slices and soak in water for 5 to 10 minutes (preferably longer) to prevent discoloration. Drain and let them dry.

gallery_16375_5_35338.jpg

b. Aojiso aka ooba (perilla leaves):

Wash and let dry on a paper towel.

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c. Carrot, onion, and ko ebi (small shrimp) kakiage:

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Cut onion and carrot into julienne, put them in a bowl, and add ko ebi.

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d. Vannamei shrimp (white shrimp):

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Shell shrimp, leaving the last segment, and devein using a bamboo skewer.

Cut tail end diagonally and remove water from tail with the knife to prevent oil splatters.

Make five cuts on the belly and bend the wrong way to prevent curling during deep-frying.

Results:

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All preparations are now completed. From now on, don't answer the bell and don't answer the phone. Don't leave the fryer unattended, or you may burn your house.

Fryer:

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Put oil in the fryer about 5 cm (2 inches) deep and turn on heat.

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First, set the temperature control to 160 C (320 F), if you have one.

Batter:

Put 1 egg in a cup and add cold water up to the 200-ml level.

(In Japan, 1 cup is equivalent to 200 ml.)

Put them in a bowl. Mix well.

Sift 1 cup flour and add it to the bowl. Use a pair of chopsticks to mix. DON'T OVERMIX.

gallery_16375_5_6069.jpg

(You can see some ice cubes in the bowl. I usually don't do this, but I forgot to put some water in the fridge to chill it. :sad: )

a. Ooba:

Dust with flour on the lower side only to ensure adhesion of batter, and coat thinly with batter on the lower side only. Deep-fry at low temperature (around 160 C = 320 F) for 1 minute. If deep-fried longer, the leaves will turn bitter and brown.

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Remove tenkasu (tempura batter balls) occasionally.

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Don't throw it away. Use it to make takoyaki, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and so on.

b. Sweet potato:

Coat thickly with batter and deep-fry at medium temperature (around 170 C = 338 F) for four minutes.

gallery_16375_5_43444.jpg

c. Kakiage:

Kakiage requires some special steps:

Add some flour to the bowl containing carrot, onion, and shrimp, and mix to ensure adhesion of batter.

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and add some batter to the bowl.

Scoop some with a ladle with holes and deep-fry at medium temperature for 3 minutes.

(I used my hand to scoop, instead of a ladle.)

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I was planning to make 8 pieces, but ended up making 16 :shock: .

d. Vannamei shrimp:

Dust with flour, coat thinly with batter, and deep-fry at high temperature (180 C = 356 F) for 2 minutes.

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Tempura making is now completed.

Grate daikon:

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I used the oni oroshi, which I had recently bought at the 100-yen shop. You can make coarsely grated daikon with it.

What's left in the batter bowl and the plate for dusting ooba and shrimp:

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I mixed the batter and flour and pan-fried it. I think I'll have it today, with some seasonings. If I don't, somebody will.

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Filter the oil while it is still hot and store in a pot for reuse.

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In my next post, I think I'll make tendon (tempura donburi)!

Edited to add a photo.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
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Great job, Hiroyuki. I love the in-depth remarks. I'm looking forward to your Tendon session.

Thanks for your compliment, ChryZ. :smile:

***

Today, I went to the supermarket, hoping to get some kuruma ebi (Penaeus Japonicus) cheap, but they were much more expensive than I had hoped for, around 200 yen per piece. :shock: So, no tendon for supper tonight. :sad:

Instead, I took some photos of the tempura sold there.

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You can see most of the pieces of tempura are thickly coated, especially the shrimp.

Close-up of the shrimp tempura:

gallery_16375_5_109296.jpg

At many soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurants, they serve more thickly coated shrimp tempura.

Now you know that thinly coated tempura is not necessarily what to strive for. :wink:

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They don't just look thickly coated; were they also rolled in panko?

I've never heard of tempura made with panko. Although I'm sure that someone, somewhere may have tried it.

The prawn tempura simply looks thickly coated, like it has been coated and fried more than once.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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They don't just look thickly coated; were they also rolled in panko?

That's exactly what I was going to explain in a future post!

It's achieved by using a special technique described as "hana o sakaseru" (producing flowers).

For this technique, you need to use a fryer with a shallow portion in it.

You first coat a shrimp with batter, place it on the shallow portion of the fryer, and put drops of batter on it using a pair of chopsticks, a spoon, or your hand. When the batter hardens enough, move the shrimp to the deeper portion of the fryer.

In my tendon session, I will try to use this technique by some means or other.

I will also change the ingredients of my batter to 80% flour, 20% potato starch, an egg (or egg yolk) and 1 tbsp baking powder, trying to get a hard and crumchy texture rather than a light and crispy texture.

Edited to make some additions.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
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