SEAFOOD AND VEGETABLE TEMPURA WITH TWO DIPPING SAUCES
- Assorted bite-sized seafood and vegetables such as shrimp, scallops, broccoli, mushrooms, eggplant, squash, onions, scallions, and asparagus
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 1/4 .25 .25cup CUP_USVolumerice flour
- 3 3 3cups CUP_USVolumesoda water, plus more if necessary
- 2 2 2cups CUP_USVolumeall-purpose flour
- 1/2 .5 .5cup CUP_USVolumecornstarch
- 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON_USVolumebaking powder
- 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON_USVolumesalt
- 1 1 1teaspoon TEASPOON_USVolumecayenne pepper
- 2 2 2tablespoons TABLESPOON_USVolumeChinese dry mustard (or Colman's English Mustard Powder)
- Pinch turmeric
- 2 2 2tablespoons TABLESPOON_USVolumerice wine vinegar
- 2 2 2teaspoons TEASPOON_USVolumewater
- 1/4 .25 .25cup CUP_USVolumeliquid from bottled pickled ginger
- 1 1 1lemon, juiced
- 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON_USVolumesugar
- 1 1 1cup CUP_USVolumepeanut oil
- 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON_USVolumechili oil
- 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON_USVolumetoasted Asian-style sesame oil
- 1/4 .25 .25cup CUP_USVolumemirin
- 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON_USVolumebrown sugar
- 1/4 .25 .25cup CUP_USVolumelemon juice
- 1/4 .25 .25cup CUP_USVolumesoy sauce
- 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON_USVolumewasabi powder
- 2 2 2tablespoons TABLESPOON_USVolumetoasted Asian-style sesame oil
- 2 2 2tablespoons TABLESPOON_USVolumeminced scallions
- First, make the Tempura Batter: In a small bowl, stir together the rice flour and 1/2 cup of the soda water until blended. Set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Stir into this mixture the remaining 2 1/2 cups soda water, salt, and cayenne; then, stir in the rice flour mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rest in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before use.
- While the batter is resting, make the Hot Chinese Mustard Sauce: In a bowl, dissolve the dry mustard and turmeric in the rice wine vinegar and water. Stir in the pickled ginger liquid, lemon juice, and sugar and whisk until well blended. In another bowl, combine the peanut, chili, and sesame oils. Whisking continuously, slowly pour the oils into the mustard mixture until emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- Also while the batter is resting, make the Sesame Scallion Dipping Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the mirin, brown sugar, lemon juice, soy sauce, and wasabi. Stir in the sesame oil and scallions. Set aside.
In a deep-fryer or a deep, heavy pan, preheat several inches of oil to 350 to 375°F. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Remove the batter from the refrigerator and, if it seems too thick, thin it by stirring in a little more soda water to give it the consistency of heavy cream. Piece by piece, dip the seafood and vegetables into the batter and then carefully drop them into the hot oil, taking care to avoid splashing or splattering; do not overcrowd the oil, cooking the food in batches. Fry the food until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. With a wire skimmer, a slotted spoon, or metal tongs, remove the food from the oil and transfer to paper towels to drain. Then, transfer them to a heatproof dish and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining batches.
Note: Serves 4 as main course, 8 as an appetizer
- Serve the seafood and vegetables on napkin-lined plates, passing individual small bowls of the two sauces for each person to dip to taste.
Adding rice flour and cornstarch to the batter and using effervescent soda water instead of still water makes this version of the Japanese deep-fried dish known as tempura extra light and crisp. The quantities here make enough to coat about a dozen shrimp and a dozen scallops, or other bite-sized pieces of seafood, plus an accompanying assortment of vegetables that you like. Be sure to slice bigger vegetables into thin pieces that will cook through quickly. I think serving the tempura with two contrasting dipping sauces makes an especially interesting presentation. For another interesting version of tempura, see my Spicy Shrimp Tempura with Cilantro.