Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fried Foods: Tempura

by James Bednar

One of the things I'll miss most about Nashville when I move to South Carolina next week is Ken's Sushi. At Ken's you get fantastic sushi without all the distractions. I'll especially miss their tempura, so I thought I'd try making my own:

For batter, I used 1 cup each of rice flour and ice-cold seltzer water and then added two egg yolks, some sesame oil and a little salt.

For vegetables, I went with red peppers, mushrooms, greenbeans, avocados, sweet potatoes, and jalapeno peppers. (I can't get enough of jalapeno peppers.) I also used shrimp. Once the vegetables and shrimp were cut and DRIED, I powdered the vegetables and shrimp in rice flour and dredged them in the batter:

To the right, you can see the wok filled with heated peanut oil. Most electric woks cannot get hot enough to use for tempura or, for that matter, to sear meats and vegetables when stir-frying. Not so with the Breville wok. I love this wok. Cent-for-cent I don't think you can get a more versatile and high-quality piece of cookware, but I digress. With the oil heated to about 375, I plopped a few pieces at a time into the wok and let them fry for a few minutes, turning as necessary:
For dipping sauce, I got lazy. I bought a bottle of Kikkoman's Tempura Dipping Sauce and doctored it up a bit with rice wine vinegar and scallions.

I achieved good results, except I say ixnay on the avocado. My tempura was nowhere near as good as Ken's. Truthfully, I would have been disappointed if it were. I did manage to advance the art of tempura making in at least one respect. Behold the Tempura Diablo:

Shrimp in a jalapeno pepper with tempura batter. I left out the bacon, mainly because I didn't have any but also because bacon, along with sticks of butter, is on the side of the line I've drawn which says do not deep fry.


  1. Yummmm. I love tempura, and it looks like you've replicated it beautifully. Fantastic!

  2. You are diablo obsessed. :-) Nice pictures. What kind of camera are you using?

  3. Oh, yummy. I'll have to try this. I don't have a wok. What do you think would work well as a wok alternative?

  4. I like this, and will probably make this!

  5. Moll, do you have a deep cast-iron skillet? That could work...

  6. I used a Kodak EasyShare M763. I was shocked to see Amazon had them listed at $229, because I bought mine at Target for $104 in June.

  7. A cast iron skillet might work. Also, if you have a gas stove (which I don't), a regular wok would work; they're not that expensive, especially at Asian groceries stores.