Food & Drink

Tasty tempura

WITH Mother’s Day looming and many restaurants already fully booked (we still have some tables!) I’m going to start sharing with you some ideas for a family lunch at home, both this week and next.

My first thought was a sharing dish, a tempura is a delicious dish that you can do with large prawns or vegetables or both mixed. It works really well with mushrooms and asparagus for example.

The reason I’ve picked this recipe is because whenever I prepare tempura for my cookery school my students flag it up as one of the things that they have loved cooking and eating the most.

The first time that I ever cooked a tempura was in Bangkok. I was on my honeymoon (with my first wife) and we were sitting by the pool. I got up and wandered off.

I spotted a chef and walked over to him and told him that I was a chef and I asked about the food he was cooking.

He said come in the kitchen later on and I’ll show you. So I booked to go in that afternoon but forgot to tell my wife as she was so engrossed with sunbathing.

When I got into the kitchen I was given a jacket to wear and told to help the lady chef make a tempura batter. I whisked the flour and water until it was silky smooth, she shouted at me … “No! You need lump.”

“What?” I said … “Lump … must have lump, better for wegetables” and she poured more flour in and mixed it with long chopsticks.

She was right because the little flour lumps in the batter make the tempura interesting with little crispy pieces surrounding each prawn or the vegetable.

I honestly had not understood what she was saying, I was only 23 bless. Every time I mix a tempura I hear her shouting.. “You need lump!” Anyway when I got back to the pool, Sally (my ex) said “Where the hell have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you! Once a chef always a chef.”

No wonder the marriage didn’t work!

This is a great sharing dish ideal for a family lunch starter, quick and easy to prepare.

You could put a large dish of tempura prawns and vegetables in the centre of the table with a variety of dips and let everyone get on with it.


Tempura ingredients:

• Plain flour: 100g

• Egg: 1

• Cold water: 200cc

• Baking Soda: 1 teaspoon

• Potato Starch: 2 tablespoons Or

• Optional and easier

• 200g of tempura flour (from most supermarkets)

• 200cc of iced cold sparkling water

• Seasoning

• A few cubes of ice

• A tablespoon of olive oil

• Your choice of vegetables, seafoods and mushrooms such as aubergine, onion, capsicum, green beans, carrot, okra, asparagus, prawn, white fish and squid.

• Oil (sunflower or corn for frying) Make the tempura batter

• Mix plain flour, baking soda and potato starch together and then sift mixed flour as preparation.

• Crack an egg into the bowl and beat it roughly. Add the cold water and mix them.

• Put 1/3 mixed flour in to egg mixture and gently mix. Long cooking chop sticks are the best utensil for mixing tempura batter. If you do not have them, use a fork instead.

• Then add an additional 1/3 flour and mix.

• And finally add the last 1/3 flour and mix.

• Alternatively use the pre-mix tempura flour and add the cold sparkling water, some ice cubes and seasoning and the olive oil

• Important: Lumps in the flour is fine. Do not mix it too much as you will get a lot of gluten which makes it heavy and creates an ‘un-crispy’ tempura batter. Prepare the ingredients Use the freshest ingredients you can find and cut them into pieces roughly the same size to avoid uneven cooking.

Prawn preparation

• Take off the head and shell, but keep the tail.

• Remove the vein.

• Cut into the underneath of each prawn with a small incision to stop the prawn curling up when you fry it

• Toss prepared prawns/ vegetables in flour (any flour) first until completely coated Frying the prawns / vegetables

• Heat the fryer or a pan/wok of vegetable oil to 190C

• Take the prawns from the flour and dip them into the prepared tempura batter holding onto the tail

• Put them one by one into the hot fryer and move the basket (or move the prawns with a slotted spoon) to avoid them sticking together

• Fry for one minute until golden

• Drain onto tissue paper

• Season with salt and some mixed spices (optional)

• Serve on plate with various dips.

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