The perfect tempura features fresh seafood and vegetables quick-fried in a delicate, lacy, golden batter. The best way to achieve this delicate perfection is to follow a few key rules: maintain the hot oil at a constant temperature, use ice water and finely sifted flour, and have everything you need close at hand to ensure a rapid, smooth process when preparing and frying the food. These steps help you attain an appealing, golden-brown coating that is tasty without overpowering the flavors of your food.
Things You'll Need
Heat several cups of canola oil in a deep pot until the oil reaches a steady temperature of between 340 to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. It is essential to maintain the oil at this consistent temperature to prevent problems with the tempura batter: if the oil is not hot enough, the batter will absorb too much oil; if it is too hot, the batter will burn. The consistent hot temperature also contributes to the perfect golden color.
Put 2 egg yolks in the mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of ice water — using the water, but not the ice — followed by 2 cups of sifted flour. Do not mix these ingredients. Instead, after each addition, use several chopsticks bunched in your hand to poke at the ingredients to break them apart and allow them to seep into each other. After poking the flour into the egg-water mixture, your batter should contain lumps and traces of flour.
Pour a little flour into a shallow dish. Using your fingers, quickly dredge each item to be cooked in the flour; this will help the batter adhere. Immediately after dredging the food, dip it into the batter mixture, just enough to coat.
Fry the food in small batches, to help prevent the oil from cooling off. The tempura-coated food will cause the oil to bubble around it as it cooks. Turn each piece of food during frying so it cooks evenly. Fry shrimp and fish for about 3 minutes to achieve a light, golden-brown, crispy coating texture. Vegetables typically need only 2 to 2 1/2 minutes in the oil. Sprinkle some additional batter by hand onto the frying food to improve the crispiness and golden-brown color of the finished tempura items.
Remove the food from the oil with a slotted spoon. Place it on paper-towel-lined trays to drain excess oil. Serve the tempura with a spicy dipping sauce or coarsely ground seasoned salt.
References and ResourcesCanadian Living: Corn Tempura
Saveur: How to Make Perfect Tempura