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Tempura                                    
Source: Noriko's Kitchen


A long time ago (about 400+ years back), when Japan was trading with
Portuguese and Dutch merchants, tempura was introduced to the country as the
style in which these merchants cooked vegetables and fish. Tempura was not
popular among Japanese people until the late Edo era. A tempura street
vendor started to serve tempura-fried fish caught fresh from Tokyo Bay, and
it became popular with the common people. Sesame seed oil was mainly used in
those days.

It seems very hard to learn the knack of tempura frying. With a little help,
though, tempura deep frying can be so simple that you will want to show off
to your friends. The main ingredients are vegetables and fish of your
choosing. There are a few points that you have to remember: 1) slice the
vegetables thin so they can be fried in a short time; 2) you will need a
deep, thick-walled pan (a wok is OK) filled about 1 inch deep with peanut
oil (try other types of oil if you like, but never add lard or shortening);
3) deep-fry in small batches so you can maintain the temperature of the oil;
and finally 4) tempura-fry vegetables at 340F and fish at 360F.

Ingredients:

[Koromo (batter)]

Using cold water (about 40F) is a must. This keeps the batter from becoming
sticky. When you add the flour, whisk quickly just to mix it in evenly.
Sticky batter results in oily tempura.

   * 1 egg, beaten
   * 1 cup COLD water
   * 2 tablespoons dry white wine
   * 1 cup flour

Beat the egg and mix with water. Add flour and whisk quickly.

[Tentsuyu (tempura dip)]

   * 1 tablespoon dashi no moto in 1 cup of water, boiled for two to three
     minutes
   * 2 tablespoons mirin. You can replace this with 1 tablespoon sugar
   * 2 tablespoons sake or dry white wine
   * 1/4 cup soy sauce
   * ginger root to taste, freshly grated (optional)

After you boil the dashi, turn off the heat and add the rest of the
ingredients.

[Vegetables & Fish] (ingredients and preparation suggestions)

   * Carrots, cut into thin sticks (i.e. 1 1/2 inches long)
   * Onions, sliced
   * Green pepper, cut into rings or any way you want
   * Eggplant, thinly sliced
   * Broccoli, prepared as for a for salad
   * Green onions, (see mixed vegetable tempura -- kakiage)
   * Zucchini, thinly sliced
   * Mushrooms, halved, or whole if small
   * Green beans, halved lengthwise, or whole
   * Asparagus, bite-sized (deep-fry 3 or 4 sticks together)
   * Butternut squash, bite-sized thin slices
   * Okra, halved lengthwise
   * Snow pea pods, whole

   * Cod, bite-sized
   * Shrimp, peeled, whole. Dip shrimp in the batter by holding the tail
     fin, and fry two or three at a time.
   * Scallops, whole if small
   * Crab, break shell and expose meat before dipping in batter
   * Squid, sliced into rings or strips

Dredge fish in flour before dipping in batter.

Directions:

Heat the oil to 340F or 360F. Dip the vegetables or fish in the batter and
place them in the oil. If it is difficult to handle the vegetable chunks,
you may use a tablespoon to drop them in. Do not fry too much at a time, in
order to maintain the temperature. Take the tempura out of the oil just when
the batter gets SLIGHTLY brown. Vegetables usually take less than two to
three minutes. Remember: the thinner the vegetable, the faster it cooks. For
fish, the time to pull it out is when the batter turns very slightly brown.
It is good idea to do trial frying in the beginning. Taste it and decide how
long it will have to be fried. Once you get the timing right, the rest is
simple.

Serve with tentsuyu. Tempura is also served with rice. This is called
ten-don. Put warm rice in a bowl or on a plate and place tempura on top of
the rice. Pour on two or three tablespoons of tentsuyu. Another popular way
of serving tempura is over a bowl of noodles. This is called tempura-udon or
tempura-soba, and it is traditional Japanese fast food.

There are many variations in tempura frying. You can mix two or three
vegetables and fry them together. This is called kakiage style. So be
creative and invent your own style.

- recipe courtesy of Hiroyuki Sato (71461.2100@compuserve.com)




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