Nanban chef Tim Anderson believes tempura is the best place to start your “journey into the world of Japanese food”, because it’s simple and “such a crowd-pleaser”.
You will have to learn to deep-fry, but don’t fear, this recipe doesn’t use much oil – and the best news it, you won’t need any specialist ingredients. What are you waiting for?
- Appox. 1.5L of oil for deep-frying (possibly a little more, depending on the size of your pan)
- 8 broccoli florets or Tenderstem broccoli stems
- 1 large or 2 small onions, cut into 7.5mm rounds
- 8 oyster mushrooms
- 1 courgette, cut in half and then into quarters lengthways
- 8 king prawns, peeled and deveined, scored 5-6 times on their underside to prevent them from curling
- 200g skinless, boneless cod or other meaty white fish, cut into 4 goujons
- Salt and a wedge of lemon to season
For the batter:
- 1 egg
- 400ml sparkling water
- 200g plain flour
- 100g cornflour
- Pinch of salt
- Get all your ingredients ready to go before cooking – bear in mind that this is quick, hot cooking, so anything cut too thick will risk burning before it cooks through.
- Pour the oil into a very big, deep pan, ensuring that you keep the oil level at least 7.5cm below the rim of the pan, to be safe. Put the oil over a medium heat while you make the batter.
- For the batter, beat the egg, and then stir it together with the sparkling water, ideally using chopsticks. Don’t stir too much or you will knock the bubbles out of the water.
- Stir both flours together with the salt in a separate bowl, then pour in the egg and sparkling water mixture. Mix until the batter comes together with a consistency of double (heavy) cream.
- Check the temperature of the oil. If you have a thermometer, use it – the oil should be at 170-180°C. Or simply drip a few drops of the batter into the oil to test it. If the batter sinks, it’s too cold. If the batter immediately floats and sizzles, it’s too hot. The batter should sink just below the surface of the oil, then rise up and start to sizzle.
- Dunk the veg and fish in the batter, one at a time, allowing excess to drip off before carefully placing them in the oil. Use tongs or chopsticks to separate the veg as they fry so they don’t stick together. You’ll have to do the veg in batches – the ideal way to serve and eat this is straight out of the fryer. Otherwise, just keep the tempura in a very low oven with the door slightly ajar to let out moisture until it’s all ready to serve.
- The tempura is done when it is a light golden brown and hard to the touch – use tongs or chopsticks to feel if the batter has firmed up before removing from the oil and draining on kitchen paper. Serve with wedges of lemon and sea salt.