Vegetable Tempura

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Successful tempura has two essentials, well-made batter and well-judged deep-frying. Most restaurants buy tempura batter from Oriental supermarkets as a ready-made mix, just as most fish and chip shops buy in the batter that coats their offerings.

It’s customary to deep-fry some slivers of fish or shellfish in addition to the vegetables but the dish works just as well without, or even as part of a salad with the dipping sauce doubling as dressing for the greens. Dashi is bonito tuna stock, available dried in sachets in Oriental shops and delicatessens.

Ingredients

For the Batter

  • 250ml (9fl oz/1 cup + 2 tablespoons) very cold iced water
  • 1 medium egg
  • 100g (4 oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 50g (2 oz/½ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • a pinch of salt
  • vegetable oil, for frying

For the Vegetables

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 aubergine (eggplant)
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini)
  • 4 spring onions (scallions)
  • 8 shiitake, girolle or button mushrooms

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons dashi
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Method

First prepare the vegetables. Halve and deseed the bell peppers, then cut them into 10 cm (4 in) strips. Peel the aubergine and cut into 10 cm (4 in) batons. Cut the courgette into 10 cm (4 in) batons. Wash, top and tail the spring onions and wash and slice the mushrooms.

Make the dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the batter by stirring together the cold water, egg, plain flour, cornflour and salt in a large bowl.

Heat the oil – to 190°C (375°F) if you have a thermometer – then dip the vegetable slices in the batter and deep-fry. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the dipping sauce.

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