The vegetable tempura you see pictured here is what I learned to make in Culinary school, and it is what you will find in most Japanese restaurants – at least those in Southern California. It is light, airy, crunchy, and simple. The dipping sauce is also simple. This recipe is part of this month’s Family Dinner Book Club celebrating the book The Peace Tree of Hiroshima.
Simple food is what we found all over Japan when we travelled there a few years ago. I sort of knew that Japanese food was understated and mellow, but I didn’t fully appreciate it until I was there amidst the natural beauty and tradition of Japanese culture.
This light and fluffy tempura is also what we found in Japan. However, we also found a few different styles of tempura! I was not expecting that. We had tempura that had a thicker coating and was tossed in some sort of sauce. I wonder if that was a regional variation, or if that was catering to the Western palate. I don’t know, but I do know that it was all tasty.
Vegetable tempura is a great way to get some veggies into your kids bellies. Yes, it is deep fried, but it is a quick fry, and the veggies maintain a nice al dente crunch. Bonus if your kids enjoy dipping! I made the traditional tempura dipping sauce, and I added my own Japanese-inspired dipping sauce that I like to use on rice bowls, fried rice, noodles, the sky is the limit!
What vegetables will you turn into tempura?
- 120 grams (1 cup) +60 grams (1/2 cup) all purpose flour, separated
- 63 grams (1/2 cup) cornstarch
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 470 milliliters (2 cups) ice cold water
- 900 grams (2 pounds) favorite vegetables (green beans, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, lotus root, eggplant, parsnips, radishes, etc)
- Neutral oil for frying (peanut, safflower, sunflower)
- 175 milliliters (3/4 cup) dashi
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 118 milliliters (1/2 cup) low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fish oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the 60 grams of flour with the cornstarch.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the 120 grams flour, eggs, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the ice cold water until the batter is smooth and thin.
- Slice the vegetables into bite sized pieces, and set a medium pot filled halfway with oil over a medium flame to heat.
- The oil is ready once it has reached 350F degrees, or a pinch of flour sizzles immediately when submerged.
- Dredge the vegetables in the flour/cornstarch mixture, then dip in the tempura batter, and repeat (so you will have dipped the vegetable into each bowl twice).
- Gently drop into the oil, and fry for 1-2 minutes, until the batter is very lightly browned. Depending on the size of your pot, you can fry about 6-10 pieces at a time.
- Remove using a slotted spoon or spider strainer onto a paper towel lined plate.
- Repeat this process until all the vegetables have been fried. Serve with dipping sauces.
- Whisk the ingredients together and serve with the tempura.