Best Vegetable Tempura Recipes
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Vegetable Tempura Shopping Tips
Buy cooking oils with high smoke points like peanut, canola, and safflower which don’t break down at the high temperatures needed for deep-frying.
Vegetable Tempura Cooking Tips
Don’t overcrowd the pan – if too much food is added at once, the oil temperature will drop and the food will steam instead of brown.
Heat 2 inches oil in a wok or heavy pot over medium heat to 350 degrees.
Mix yolk with water using fat wooden chopsticks. Add the flour all at once and mix just slightly. There should be large lumps of flour and a rim of flour dust around the bowl. Over mixing will result in a heavy batter coating. It is best to mix the batter in this amount, and repeat as necessary. Prepare ingredients, dry them, and dredge lightly in flour before dipping in batter.
When oil is hot, dip the vegetables one at a time into batter to coat completely, and then allow excess to drain into bowl. Working in batches, about 6 pieces at a time, and using a spider, carefully submerge vegetables in oil. Cook, turning once, until light golden, puffed and cooked through, about 3 minutes for most vegetables. They should be tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. Transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack to drain. Serve with dipping sauce. To serve sweet potato tempura for dessert, sprinkle with sugar and serve immediately.
Crispy Vegetable Tempura Recipe
Crispy Vegetables like baby corn, broccoli, carrot & bell peppers are batter fried with a light batter till it is crispy. These Vegetable Tempuras make a great appetizer or side dish along with an asian meal.
Crispy Vegetable Tempura Recipe is a light batter fried vegetables like baby corn, carrot, bell peppers and broccoli.
The tempura batter is made sometimes with sparkling water in order to keep it light and aerated. The batter is then kept cold by adding some ice cubes and made quick only for small batches for frying.
The concept was first got from the Portuguese which was then popularised in Japan.
Serve the Crispy Vegetable Tempura Recipe, along with a Spicy Chicken Manchurian, Thai Style Noodles With Spinach And Leeks Recipe and a Aish el Saraya as a dessert for a special weekend dinner with friends and family.
If you liked the Crispy Vegetable Tempura Recipe, take look at our favorite Asian recipes below:
How Healthy is Tempura?
In moderation, this snack is perfect with any healthy meal. The tempura itself may be higher in fat, but it goes perfectly with sashimi and lean protein! Therefore, tempura is a great addition to your dinner.
What Can be Tempura?
You can use shrimp, onions, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, eggplants and broccoli to make tempura. You can also make fried ice cream, too.
Why is My Tempura Not Crispy?
Referring to the cook&rsquos tips above, it is important to use ice cold water for the batter. Furthermore, make sure that you aren&rsquot using too much batter, as this will cause your tempura items to become mushy.
I've never really been good at making tempura, the quintessential Japanese deep fried dish. My mother's tempura has always been terrific - crispy, light, and not greasy at all. So, taking advantage of her extended vacation here this year, I drilled her properly on how she makes tempura.
Her method does not rely on special tempura flour (cheap in Japan but expensive or hard to get a hold of elsewhere), or other recently touted additions like vodka or other high-alcohol liquor, so anyone should be able to do it. Just follow the key points listed below.
Point no. 1: Use the freshest ingredients you can find
The light tempura batter is meant to enhance the flavors of the vegetables or shrimp or squid and so on that is being fried, not mask it. So the fresher your ingredients are, the better your tempura will be.
Point no. 2: Dry the surface of the ingredients completely
This is a point often missed in other directions for tempura. In order to keep the tempura batter crisp, it's important to make the surface of the things you're frying very dry. My mother cuts up her vegetables at least half an hour beforehand, and spreads them out in a single layer on kitchen towels or paper towels and puts them near a sunny window. (Since this article is about vegetable tempura I'll leave the subject of how to prep shrimp or squid for another time, but squid is actually allowed to dry out for several hours in the refrigerator, and shrimp is patted dry with kitchen or paper towels.)
Point no. 3: Use ice cold water for your batter, and don't mix it much
The flour in tempura batter is just there to hold the other ingredients together. It should not be allowed to develop gluten, which leads to heavy, doughy batter. Therefore, you should always use ice cold water with ice cubes in it for the batter, and not mix it too much. A few ice cubes and lumps of flour floating in the batter are fine - they won't stick to the food you're dipping in the batter anyway.
Point no. 4: Don't overcrowd your oil
You should keep the frying oil at a constant high temperature. If you put too much in at once, you will lower the temperature, which can make the tempura soggy and oil-logged.
Point no. 5: Don't make too much at one time
At a tempura-specialist restaurant, your tempura is fried right in front of you and served immediately. They only fry a little bit at a time. That's the ideal way to do tempura. At home, you could stand at the stove making individual portions for everyone else, but if you don't want to do that just make a small batch at a time and try to eat it immediately, even if you have to stand up again to fry another batch. (This is why I think tempura is really ideal as an appetizer, rather than a main course, in Western-style meal structures. It's easier to make appetizer-sized portions and eat it right away.)
Point no. 6: Don't fuss with the tempura once it's in the oil
There's not need to keep flipping over your tempura over and over. This just lowers the surface temperature unnecessarily. Let the hot oil do its work! Just flip over once if needed.
Point no. 7: Drain the oil very well.
If you hold the tempura piece for a few seconds just above the oil, with a bit of the end still in the oil, the oil will drain off a lot better. Then transfer the tempura piece to the draining setup that is explained later. Some people transfer the tempura to a second draining setup (with fresh paper, etc.) to drain off even more oil
With these points in mind, here is my mother's tempura recipe.
Recipe: Vegetable Tempura
For 2 main dish or 4 appetizer portions
Use whatever seasonal vegetables you have. These are what we had in late June in southern France. See the end for some other vegetable suggestions.
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 small eggplants/aubergines
- About 9 baby zucchini, or 2 regular sized zucchini
- 8 green shiso leaves
- 1 medium carrot
- A handful of green beans
- 1 egg
- A jug of ice water
- 3 Tbs. cake flour or all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
- 1 Tbs. corn or potato starch
Oil for frying (My mother prefers rapeseed oil (natane abura 菜種油). You can also use sunflower, corn or peanut oil.)
Cut the sweet potato into rounds with the skin on. Take the blossom end off the eggplants, and slice into wide strips lengthwise. (If you have a fat Western style eggplant, cut into rounds as with the sweet potato.) Leave the baby zucchini whole, just cutting off the blossom ends cut regular zucchini into wide strips. Leave the shiso leaves whole. Cut the carrot into matchsticks. Leave the green beans whole, just cutting off the tops and tails.
Spread out the cut vegetables into a single layer on kitchen or paper towels, and leave to dry out on the surface for at least half an hour. The uncut baby vegetables and so on should not need to be dried, but should be totally dry on the surface.
Just before you are ready to start frying, mix up the batter. If your egg is a 'small' size, use 250 ml of ice water (or 5 times the amount of egg). If you have a 'large' egg you'll need a tad more water. Mix the egg and water together, then add the flours, mixing rapidly with chopsticks or a fork. Do not try to get rid of all lumps, and floating ice cubes are fine - they'll help to keep the batter cool.
Pour the oil into a suitable container, no more than 1/3th of the way full for safety. A tip here: Use a heavy pot that retains heat well. A cast iron enamelled pot such as Le Creuset is ideal. In Japan, most people deep fry in a wok - a proper wok made of iron is good because it retains heat well. Don't use a cheap thin pan. For very small amounts you can also use a frying or sauté pan with fairly high sides. (Neither of us owns a dedicated deep fat fryer nor do we want to make the space for one in our kitchens.)
Heat up the oil. You can use a thermometer if you like, in which case you should heat up the oil to about 175°C or 350°F. Otherwise you can see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a bit of batter in the oil. If the batter blobs drop down and them come shooting up to the surface immediately, the oil is hot enough.
Make ready a large plate or tray lined with newspapers covered with kitchen towels, or a draining rack.
Larger pieces or whole vegetables should be dipped in the batter individually smaller pieces like the matchstick carrots or the green beans are usually fried in little bundles, dipped in the batter and then into the oil with chopsticks. Start with the more delicate vegetables first, such as the shiso leaves, which only take a few seconds. Proceed to the harder vegetables, ending up with things like the sweet potato slices. Don't overcrowd the oil pot - be patient, and only do 3 to 4 pieces at at time!
The amount of time each thing should be cooked depends on the vegetable. As mentioned, very delicate thin things only need a few seconds, while hard vegetables need a few minutes. You'll learn how long things need to be fried by experience, but if you're not sure just take a piece and cut or bite into it.
Drain each piece on the prepared draining plate or try. Don't stack the pieces on top of each other, or the pieces underneath will just soak up the oil from above!
Serve tempura when it's piping hot, for maximum crispiness.
How to present tempura
Tempura is often served on a piece of absorbent paper called a kaishi (懐紙), folded attractively. You can use a piece of plain, unprinted paper with absorbent qualities, such as untreated drawing paper (which is what I used in the photo above), plain white paper napkins, and so on. Otherwise, just arrange it attractively on a plate.
What to serve with tempura
For vegetable tempura, my favorite condiment is just some sea salt, sprinkled on. You could add a few drops of lemon juice too, though this isn't traditional. You can also use tentsuyu, which is just a slightly thinned out version of soba tsuyu or soba dipping sauce (thin out with a bit of dashi stock). Grated daikon radish is often added to tentsuyu.
Leftover tempura can be crisped up in a toaster oven or regular oven. Just spread out in a single layer and bake for about 5 to 10 minutes until it's a slightly darker shade of brown.
Japanese people love soggy-on-purpose tempura too, especially in the form of tendon, which is just tempura on top of rice with some mentsuyu poured over it in its simplest form. Tendon is best made with freshly fried tempura, but you can use leftover tempura too.
What vegetables can you use for tempura?
Basically, anything that is in season can be used. Harder vegetables should be cut thinner or smaller so that they cook faster. Some examples, both traditionally Japanese and not so traditional:
- Sliced onions
- Green onions, cut into about 1/2 inch / 1cm pieces (fry in little bundles mixed with matchstick carrots)
- Green shiso leaves (red shiso is too bitter)
- Chrysanthemum leaves and shungiku
- Green beans
- Snow peas
- Sweet potatoes (the white or orange kind)
- Kabocha squash
- Shishito peppers (slightly spicy)
- Burdock (gobo)
- Fava beans (soramame)
- Green asparagus - cut into about 2 inch / 4 cm lengths
- Parsley leaves
- Sage leaves
- Thai basil
- Arugula (rucola/rocket)
- Green peas
- Slightly unripe, firm tomatoes (cut into wedges and deseed)
- Potatoes (cut into rounds or wedges)
- Sweet peppers (cut into strips)
- Jalapeño peppers (whole or cut into half and deseeded)
- Firm banana (cut into chunks) - I've never tried plantain but that could work too
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Begin the tempura batter: Combine the yolks and water in a bowl, mixing until they're incorporated, then add the ice cubes (the "wet" part of the batter).
To prepare a tempura cooking station: beside your burner, arrange the vegetables, a plate with the cake flour, and the wet and dry parts of the batter. Also, ready a tray lined with paper towels or newspaper to absorb the excess oil from the cooked vegetables, and the tools you’ll need: chopsticks, a metal strainer, and a candy thermometer, if you have one. Place a cooking vessel on the burner use one with a uniform size to heat oil evenly, like a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven (don’t use a wok). Add the vegetable oil and sesame oil.
Heat the oil to 360°F over high heat.
While the oil is heating, prepare the tempura batter: Quickly add the 2 cups flour to the liquid, in one shot. Hold 4 chopsticks together, the tips pointed down, like you're grabbing a bottle. Stab at the batter with the chopsticks, mashing down again and again to combine the dry and wet parts. Do not stir you barely want to mix the batter. Mix for about 30 seconds, or until the batter becomes loose and liquidy, with the consistency of heavy cream. It should be lumpy, with visible globs of dry flour floating in the liquid, and with unmixed flour sticking to the sides of the bowl. Remember, if you overmix the batter, you'll ruin it.
When the oil has reached 360°F, prepare to cook the vegetables in batches. Be careful not to overfill the skillet, which will lower the cooking temperature use, at most, half of the surface area of the oil to cook. While the tempura is cooking, check the oil temperature with a candy thermometer. Regulate the heat to maintain a constant 360°F oil temperature. If the oil is too hot, the tempura will burn if too low, the tempura will come out soggy and greasy.
Lightly dredge the vegetables in the flour, then dip into the batter. Immediately lay the vegetables in the hot oil. Working in batches, deep-fry the harder vegetables like sweet potato, carrot, or lotus root first, for about 3 minutes, until the vegetables turn golden brown. Transfer the vegetables to the prepared tray to drain excess oil. Repeat with the other vegetables. Cook softer vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and pumpkin for about 2 minutes. For shiso leaves, dredge only one side of the leaf with flour, and cook for about 1 minute.
How to Make Tempura
In Japanese cooking, deep frying is an art, and it takes some know-how and practice to execute desirable results. For the case of tempura, the hot oil enhances the natural sweetness and flavors of whatever you’re frying, at the same time, devoid of greasiness. Let’s take a look at how you can achieve that at home.
Deep Frying Oil
Most tempura restaurants use untoasted sesame oil or their own special blend of oil. At home, you can also use a neutral-flavored oil such as vegetable or rice bran oil or canola oil, and simply add a touch of sesame oil for a deliciously nutty aroma. Use clean, new oil instead of used oil.
Ideally, the oil should fill up to ½ of the pot. The minimum oil you need in a frying pan is 1 inch deep. The more oil you have, the more ability the oil will have to sustain its ideal temperature throughout frying.
Ideal oil temperature for frying – Depending on the ingredients, we are looking at the range of 320-350°F (160-180°C). Use a thermometer for precise temperature control, especially if you’re not familiar with deep frying.
You can check the approximate temperature by dropping the batter into the oil.
- High temperature (350ºF or 180ºC): the batter will come right back up.
- Medium temperature (340ºF or 170ºC): the batter will go to the middle of the pot and come right back.
- Low temperature (320ºF or 160ºC): the batter will go to the bottom of the pot and slowly come up.
Cooking Time and Temperature
Seafood & Meat (350ºF or 180ºC)
- Meat (pork and chicken) – 3-4 minutes
- Shrimp – 2 minutes
- Squid – 1 minute
- Fish – 1 minute
Vegetables & Mushrooms (320ºF or 160ºC)
- Sweet potatoes – 2-3 minutes
- Kabocha – 2-3 minutes
- Shiitake mushrooms – 1 minute
- Eggplant 1 minute
- Shishito peppers – 30-40 seconds
- Shiso – 20-30 seconds
- Do not overcrowd the frying pot with ingredients – As a rule of thumb, only half of the oil surface should be covered with ingredients. So, deep fry in batches.
- Keep the oil temperature steady at all times.
- Turn the tempura regularly to ensure even cooking.
- Pick up crumbs in the oil between batches – You wouldn’t want any burnt crumbs to attach to your new tempura pieces or dilute the oil flavor.
Tempura is one of the most famous Japanese foods outside Japan. It is battered and deep fried seafood and vegetables. Tempura can be as formal as you want it to be at very expensive Tempura specialty restaurants in Japan, or casual home cooking.
At the hands of skilled Tempura chefs at nice restaurants, Tempura is light and crispy fare even though it is fried food. Seafood such as shrimps and fish as well as seasonal vegetables are prepared in front of you. It is so good and this kind of Tempura would not give you heartburn. You can make Tempura at home, of course, but it is a little tricky not to be soft and greasy. Not only does the batter have to be relatively thin, but it is important that the batter is cold and the oil is hot. This big difference of the temperature of batter and oil helps the finished product to be crispy.
Another important thing for Tempura is the choice of ingredients. There are a lot of Japanese restaurants in the US that serve Tempura, but their vegetables are usually not really so suitable for Tempura like broccoli and carrots. Broccoli florets get too soft and burned but the stalk is undercooked. Carrots… just don’t taste that great in Tempura. Understandably it is hard to get some traditional Japanese vegetables like lotus root, but others like green beans are everywhere in the US as well. You don’t need to use zucchini (unless you just love it)! Recommended vegetables for Tempura which are not so hard to find in the US are green beans, brown onions, sweet potatoes, Kabocha pumpkin, Asian eggplant, and Shiitake mushrooms.
You can use Tempura sauce called Tentsuyu for dipping or simply use salt. Tentsuyu is similar to Mentsuyu (noodle dipping sauce). If you use our Mentsuyu, just dilute the sauce with two parts water. In Kansai area (western Japan), Worcester sauce is sometimes used to drizzle on Tempura, but it may be more popular in working class neighborhoods.
It is not that hard to fry Tempura, but you may need to practice a couple of times. However, it is worthwhile because freshly made Tempura is just so heavenly!
The Temporary Vegetarian: Vegan Vegetable Tempura
Masato Nishihara, the executive chef of Kajitsu, an elegant vegan Japanese restaurant in the East Village, created a vegan vegetable tempura, one without eggs in the batter. “He believes that tempura batter, originally, was just flour and water, and that when you go back in history, at some point someone added eggs,” said Chiaki Takada, who interpreted for Mr. Nishihara. The chef said that the differences between the two tempuras — one with eggs, the other without — are not big.
“With a batter with eggs, the fried coating becomes fluffy, the coating gets a rich flavor, and the color looks bright yellow,” Ms. Takada said. “With a batter without eggs, the fried coating becomes crisp, and the taste of the ingredient inside stands out more.”
What makes a successful tempura, however, has little to do with the egg question. “It’s more about how you cut the ingredient, the thickness of the batter, and the oil temperature,” Ms. Takada said.
In case you missed it, the Temporary Vegetarian column also appeared in print last week, with recipes for three cabbage dishes.
Japanese Kakiage Tempura
I add Shiso leaves because I believe the Shiso is the best garnish ever. It gives bright green colour to this dull coloured tempura and a basil like flavour to the Kakiage tempura. Onion and carrots are usually used in Kakiage tempura but you can use any vegetables. I really like adding sweetpotato because it gives a little bit of sweetness. Gobou (burdock) and Renkon (lotus roots) will be great to add to Kakiage tempura too.
When I don&rsquot have time, I just eat tempura with soy sauce but if you have time, I recommend you to make special tempura dipping sauce. Tempura dipping sauce is called &ldquoTentsuyu&rdquo which is packed with Umani of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Tentsuyu&rsquos subtle flavour is the best match with Tempura. Japanese people often eat Tempura with finely grated Dikon raddish which makes Tempura light and delicious. Or you can have Kakiage tempura just simply with salt. There are many types of flavoured salt that you may be able to find. Enjoy!