Making the perfect tempura
5 February, 2021
Tempura is the ultimate light and tasty fried treat for Sydney summers. Here are our top tips for making it at home
Frankly, we can’t think of a better savoury summer snack to pair with an ice cold beer or crisp white wine. But what’s the secret to the perfect tempura? Here are our top tempura-tastic tips and tricks for you to try at home.
What is tempura?
Tempura is an age-old Japanese method for deep-frying vegetables and seafood in batter. Tempura should be crisp and, above all, light. A delicate, “lacy” coating is what you should be aiming for. It’s worlds away from some of the heavier and more robust batters used in Western meals like fish and chips.
Which ingredients are best for tempura?
Go for a mixture of colours and textures when looking for tempura ingredients.
Asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach leaves, eggplant slices, enoki mushrooms, capsicum, sweet potato, prawns, calamari and filleted chunks of white fish all work well.
When you’ve assembled your ingredients, pat them dry with paper towels before cooking. This prevents splutters when you pop them in the hot oil and will help produce maximum crunch.
Chatswood Interchange is a great go-to location for tempura ingredients. Check out the range of fresh produce, sauces and condiments at Asian City, Joymart and Woolworths.
Secrets to the perfect tempura batter
Tempura batter is easy to make, but there are a few golden rules to keep in mind. These are the steps you need to follow:
- Combine 2 cups of low gluten flour, 2 cups of water and an egg. Some recipes specify half flour with half cornflour. Others tell you to add a teaspoon of bicarb soda and to use sparkling water instead of still. Start with the basic recipe first and experiment as you go!
- Go easy on the mixing. Heavy handling activates the gluten which is a big no-no and leads to gluggy, thick batter. A light stirring is all you need.
- Keep it cool. This also inhibits gluten production and adds to the crunch factor. Grab a large bowl, add a little water and some ice cubes. Set the bowl containing the batter inside it.
Psst! If you’re pressed for time and wouldn’t say no to a sneaky shortcut, you can buy ready made Tempura batter mix at Woolworths.
How to deep-fry safely at home (without fancy equipment)
No deep-fryer in your kitchen kit? That’s totally OK. A humble saucepan and slotted spoon are all you need. And the best oil to use? Any neutral tasting vegetable oil will fit the bill.
- Grab a medium to large sized saucepan and add oil to no more than one-third full (to avoid overflows and burns).
- Heat the oil. Check if it’s hot enough by dropping a small cube of bread in it. If the bread turns brown within 15 seconds, you’re good to go.
- Dip your ingredients in the batter one by one before popping them in the oil. Fry in small batches – veggies first followed by seafood. Overcrowding the saucepan will prevent your Tempura from cooking evenly.
- Remove ingredients with the slotted spoon when they’re nicely crispy and rest them on a platter lined with paper towels, ready for serving.
Remember: hot oil wrangling is a job best handled by big people! If your kids are keen to help, get them involved in the prepping stages.
Dip it good!
Of course, tempura is best with a dipping sauce. The classic tempura dipping sauce consists of dashi stock (made with dashi powder or granules) mixed with mirin (sweet rice vinegar) and soy sauce.
But dipping sauces are one area where you can afford to break the rules. And really, you can use any delicious Asian-style condiment to pack some extra umami punch to your tempura. Japanese mayo, wasabi, sweet chili or teriyaki sauce are all great options.
Oh, and if the reviews are anything to go by, this one’s the bees knees of Japanese sauces. If you can get your hands on some, it might just take your tempura to the next level!
Not up for DIY tempura?
If fussing around with fryers isn’t your thing, a crispy, delicious tempura meal is still totally on the cards. Head to Chatswood Interchange for all your Asian fried food craving needs.