Meat-Free Monday Tempura Vegetables

Somehow we always manage to use the “left-over” vegetables and create meat-free dishes after the weekend – and this one is no different.

Coating vegetables in a batter and then frying until crispy; there are less appealing ways to start the week, hey?

Meat-free does not mean “taste free” (or even fat free).  However we use the vegetables which didn’t quite make it into the salad, or the cooking pot over the weekend, and give them a crispy jacket and then liberally sprinkled with sea salt and even a variety of dips and sauces which we throw together.

 

MISE EN PLACE (Preparation)

A few tips:

The batter

  • Gently shake off excess batter from the vegetables before submerging in the hot oil.
  • The oil should be hot enough to delicately cook the vegetables and batter, without scorching the outside and leaving the inside uncooked.  Test the temperature of the oil with a piece of battered vegetable before continue cooking the batches.
  • Allow the oil to come to temperature between cooking batches of vegetables.
  • Always sift the flour. This makes the flour lighter and easier to incorporate into the batter when it’s mixed.
  • For crisp tempura, use ice water instead of room-temperature or tap water.
  • Instead of a whisk, use chopsticks to mix the tempura batter ingredients together; this minimises the amount of air in the batter and lessens the risk of over-mixing.
  • Don’t prepare the tempura batter ahead of time, as it will not yield the best results.
  • First, lightly coat the vegetable in either cake flour, or all-purpose flour before dipping them into the tempura batter. This allows the batter to adhere better.

The vegetables

  • The following vegetables are ideal for tempura frying:  Zucchini (baby marrow), 
  • Onions, Eggplants (aubergines), Carrots, Peppers, French Beans (string beans), Broccoli, Wild Mushrooms, Bok Choi, Baby Corn.
  • The vegetables should be bite-size and delicate enough to cook through when deep-frying – no mammoth potato wedges or blocks of butternut.
  • The vegetables should be cut thin and neatly.

The oil

  • Make sure that you have all of the ingredients you plan to coat with the tempura batter and deep-fry (vegetables, shrimp, fish, etc.) prior to mixing the batter ingredients.

  • Heat the oil for deep-frying before the tempura batter is prepared. This ensures the batter is at its coldest when it hits the oil and that the oil is ready for frying.

YIELD: Enough for 2 people

INGREDIENTS:

85gr / 2/3 cup All-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon Cornflour
½ teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
1 large Egg
200ml Ice-cold sparkling mineral water
100gr (approx.) each Aubergine

Broccoli

Courgette

Mushrooms

Red Pepper

METHOD:

  1. Prepare the vegetables which are going to be used.  Set them aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sift the flour and cornflour once or twice to remove any clumps and to make it light and soft. Set aside.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, gently beat 1 egg until the yolk and egg whites are just barely incorporated.  Add the ice cold water to the the bowl with the beaten egg.
  4. Add the sifted flour into the bowl with the egg and water mixture and lightly combine the flour using chopsticks. Be careful not to overmix the batter.

The batter is now ready for immediate use. If for some reason the batter won’t be used right away, place it in the refrigerator temporarily (for a few short minutes) to keep it ice cold until you’re ready to deep-fry your tempura. Do not store in the fridge for an extended period of time.

5. Once coated, dip your items into the batter gently. You don’t want too much batter, otherwise, you run the risk of the outside being crispy but the inside being mushy.

6. When ready to fry, make sure that your frying oil is between 170 degrees Celsius and 180 degrees Celsius. Any higher and it will be too crispy. Any lower and it the tempura will absorb too much oil and won’t get crispy enough.

7. Once fried, serve alongside some dipping sauce and dig in.

 

Tempura Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 handful coriander, chopped
  • 1 small chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour the rice wine vinegar into a small bowl. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste for sweetness. Add coriander, chilli, and garlic and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and allow to sit for 10 minutes to 1 hour, for flavors to combine.


 

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