I’m sure a large portion of us like a healthy portion of classic, British Fish ‘n Chips; there’s nothing quite like battered Cod (or Rock if you prefer, maybe even Plaice) to soothe the soul, especially on a Friday night after a hard week at work. Sometimes, though, we need a little something more exciting when it comes to our deep fried, battered goods… Enter Tempura.
A traditionally Japanese creation, Tempura is a form of batter vastly different from what many of us typically think of. For starters, one of the most popular variations of the batter combines soft wheat flour (typically cake or pastry flour) with cold sparkling water.
“Cold” is very much a theme with Tempura, as the batter is typically mixed in a bowl (just barely and usually with chopsticks, to ensure the batter forms with lumps), and then placed within a larger bowl filled with ice. Sometimes the ice is placed into the batter directly once it has been mixed. Typically, seafood such as shrimp and a variety of vegetables are used in Tempura, and will be dipped in the cool batter mixture before being briefly deep fried in oil. Though Vegetable Oil and Canola Oil are often used, traditionally, Tempura is fried using Sesame Oil or Tea Seed Oil.
The resulting treat is a lightly fried snack with a fluffy, crisp batter, perfect for dipping into Tentsuyu or lightly sprinkling with Sea Salt.
If you’d like to attempt the dish yourself, bare in mind the following; one, you do not want to over mix the batter during preparation, as this will result in the batter mixture becoming soft and dough-like when fried. Two, if you decide to use fish or a hard skinned vegetable, it is essential that the skin is scored before being battered- this will prevent the ingredients from bursting during the cooking process (not only spoiling the food, but putting the person cooking at risk of receiving serious burns).