Tempura is the Japanese name for battered, fried tidbits and is the quintessential Japanese deep-fried dish.
Let’s be real about tempura for a minute. It’s crispy, it’s fried, AND it’s not another potato dish. That’s an automatic win to me. Plus, the fact that it’s vegetables has me convinced that it’s healthy. The key to making anything deep-fried crispy is the use of super-cold ingredients. This includes the batter, vegetables, and even the bowl. This recipe is great with vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, onion wedges, red bell pepper wedges, mushrooms, eggplant, butternut squash, parsnip, spinach leaves, green beans, bananas, and even chicken or fish.
1. Super Duper Crispy: Dip the vegetable in the batter, fry it for 20 seconds. Dip it in the batter again, and fry for about 1 more minute. Cuz two is always better than one when it comes to fried goodness.
2. Keep It Crisp: It’s important to place the just-fried vegetables on a wire rack rather than on a paper-lined plate. The rack allows air to circulate and keep the coating crisp.
3. Super Ice Cold Batter: I mixed ice cubes directly into the batter. It’s important to keep the batter cold because the drastic change in temperature that occurs when you drop it in the hot oil causes it to crisp up better.
4. Hot Oil: In order to avoid soggy, grease-logged tempura, make sure your fry oil reaches 360°F to 375°F, or that a drop of batter immediately sizzles and rises to the surface. Only fry with oils that have a high smoke point (these are oils that aren’t as prone to burning). Most commonly this is canola oil, but for flavor and health purposes, I would also use grape seed or sunflower oil.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 16 ounces vegetables
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cups club soda, ice cold
- 2 cups tapioca starch
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups oil, for frying
1. Begin by washing, drying, and cutting an assortment of vegetables into bite-sized, oblong, or square pieces, about ¼- to ⅓-inch thick. The thicker the vegetable, the longer it will have to cook. Potatoes and root vegetables need to be blanched before using; softer veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, and eggplant do not.
2. Whisk egg yolk and club soda in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in tapioca starch, salt, and baking soda until a thin batter forms. Do not overbeat the mixture; it should remain slightly lumpy looking.
3. Add a few ice cubes to keep the batter cool. When oil is heated up to 375°F, dip some of the sliced, DRY vegetables into the tempura batter; make sure pieces are coated on all sides. If batter is not sticking, roll vegetables first in tapioca starch and then in batter. Let extra batter drip back into the bowl or it will form little pieces that burn quickly, giving a burnt taste to your oil and therefore your fried veggies. Be sure oil covers vegetables completely. Don’t crowd vegetables.
4. Cook for 30 seconds to 1½ minutes (watch carefully, times aren’t precise) on each side, or until golden brown. Tempura mixture should be made right before you are ready to actually fry vegetables.
5. Serve as is or with aioli.