But it is the Japanese who have elevated this type of cooking to the subtle art of locking the natural flavors of fresh ingredients into a lacy golden coating. In any case, the word tempura refers to classic Japanese deep fried batter-dipped seafood and vegetables. Tempura was originally a delicious between-meal snack.
However, in the hands of Japan's master chefs, tempura developed into the art of making non-greasy, crisp, deep-fried morsels. The cheap tempura snacks and lunches are still available, but only tempura boasts the lacy texture and subtle taste which has won the acclaim of gourmets all over the world.
Western restaurants frequently include tempura dishes onto their menus but seldom win authentic results. This is explained by the misunderstanding about mixing the batter. Well, the batter for tempura is made of ice-cold water, flour, and egg yolks. Cold water in the batter is necessary to keep the flour from being sticky.
Small dry bite-sized pieces of food are dipped in flour, then in batter, and then deep-fried for 2-3 minutes. Good tempura batter is mixed with chopsticks only for a few seconds. If you are doing tempura for the first time, fry in small batches and never crowd. Besides, have the temperature of the oil from 340 for vegetables or 360 degrees for fish. It is also reasonable to do a trial try of frying so you'll know how long vegetables or fish need to cook. In posh restaurants, sesame oil or a mixture of sesame and other cooking oils is used, while you can easily replace it by olive one.
The secret of tempura is in its batter coating or more precisely, the lumps, which are apt to form in the tenuous mixture of egg, ice water and flour. Because these ingredients remain unmixed, each morsel dipped to the bottom of the batter is coated in an egg-water-flour sequence. The batter must be made in small batches and not left to stand. If the flour is mixed too thoroughly moreover, the result will be an armor-like pancake casing, rather than the crispy coating.
This leaves numerous lumps in the mixture and results in the unique tempura structure when cooked. Note all Japanese ingredients may be found readily in most supermarkets or gourmet grocers today. Cooked bits of tempura are then either dipped in ethnic sauces or sprinkled with scant sea salt before eating. Also mixing it with edamame creates a unique and satisfying taste. Mixtures of powdered green tea and salt, tempura is served with grated daikon and is best eaten hot immediately after frying.
Vegetables and fish were the initial things cooked this way in the history of tempura due to their trade with the Portuguese and Dutch merchants. Often cooked in this fashion are shrimp, squid, shiitake mushroom, sweet potato, yam, kabocha squash, burdock, carrot, a wide variety of fish, and many others. Tempura is also used in combination with other foods. When served over soba (buckwheat noodles), it is called tempura soba or tensoba. Tempura is also served as a dish where tempura shrimp and vegetables are served over steamed rice in a bowl( donburi). Tempura with edmame is also very well-known and much savored.
So the area for experiments is immense and you can explore it as much as you wish, taking into account that this is really an undertaking and tasty process.