Carefully cooked tempura is light and crispy, not greasy at all. The secret to achieving this is threefold: don’t mix the batter until just before using – and don’t over mix it – it’s good to keep lumps of flour in the mix; use ice cold water to keep the batter cold; and finally make sure the fat is very hot before frying.
You will need the following:
A selection of FUNGIMENTAL mushrooms – grey oyster, shiitake, lions mane, king oyster, any tough stems discarded
For the batter:
- 150 g plain flour
- about 250 ml iced water
- 1 egg
- extra flour to dip the vegetables in before battering
- oil (or beef dripping) for deep frying (about 500-800ml)
For the Japanese style dipping sauce:
- 250 ml dashi
- 80 ml mirin
- 80 ml soy sauce
For the Japanese style garnish:
- 4 tablespoons grated radish (daikon or even red radishes are OK)
- 4 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- European style: dip pieces in salt , or a chilli dressing, to taste
If serving Japanese style, prepare the dipping sauce by combining the ingredients in a small pan, then divide equally between four small bowls.
Then place a tablespoon of grated daikon, topped with a teaspoon of ginger, alongside the bowl (on a small saucer or shell)
To cook the tempura
Arrange the mushrooms on a large plate, and have extra flour for dipping to hand in a small bowl.
In a heavy based deep and stable pan bring the oil, or fat, to 170 deg C (fairly hot).
Whilst it’s heating up (watch it though!) in a large bowl mix the batter very loosely. It needs to be the consistency of pouring cream, but with lumps of flour, not smooth.
Test the oil by flinging in a drop of batter – it should sink then rise to the surface
Dip the vegetables into flour and then in to the batter and fry until golden – about 2-3 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the pan as it lowers the temperature of the oil and creates soggy morsels.
Drain on paper and serve individually to each diner, who dips each piece in the dipping sauce, to which he or she has added the grated daikon and ginger.
In Japan chilled buckwheat noodles are a traditional accompaniment to tempura, and can be dipped in the same sauce.
Or tempura can be served on top of a bowl of hot noodles in broth.