With tempura, you make frying the entertainment at your party. It’s unusual, innovative—and scrumptious!
- 3 scant cups all-purpose flour, plus about a cup extra for dusting vegetables and shrimp
- 1 cup potato starch
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 cups ice water
- 1 jumbo or extra-large egg yolk
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Vegetables for tempura (see Notes)
- Kosher salt
- Shrimp for tempura (see Notes)
1. Before your guests arrive, mix together the 3 scant cups of flour, potato starch, and baking soda. Divide the mixture evenly between two large mixing bowls using a measuring cup (you should have about 2 cups of mixture in each bowl). Place the extra dusting flour on a plate.
2. Place the ice water in a clear pitcher or large Pyrex measuring cup, and, using a fork, beat in the egg yolk until the yolk is well incorporated. Keep the water-yolk mixture refrigerated at all times (except when you’re using it).
3. At cooking time, place the vegetable oil, several inches deep, in one or two wide cooking vessels (two woks would be ideal) over medium-high heat. Heat the oil to 335°F.
4. Pour 2 cups of the water-yolk mixture into one of the mixing bowls containing the flour-potato starch mixture. Stir—not too vigorously—with chopsticks, just mixing the liquids and solids together, about 30 seconds. The finished tempura batter should be lumpy and approximately the consistency of heavy cream. If you need to thin it, do so with a little tap water. (Reserve the other bowl of flour-potato starch mixture for later, and return the water-yolk mixture to the refrigerator.)
5. When the oil is at 335°F, pick up 1 vegetable piece with chopsticks, dust it lightly with flour, dip it in the tempura batter briefly, then add the vegetable piece to the hot oil. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom or sides. Perform the batter-drizzle technique: pick up a little extra batter with the tips of your chopsticks, and drizzle it over the vegetable in the oil. Repeat one or two more times, drizzling evenly over the vegetable and occasionally letting the batter drip off into the hot oil; this will create a lacy edge on the finished piece of tempura. Turn the vegetable over after a minute or so; finish cooking for 1 minute on the other side. After a total of about 2 minutes of cooking time, the piece should be cooked on the inside, light-yellow on the outside, and crispy. Drain on paper towels, salt, and serve. Make sure to scoop up any loose bits of batter from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon.
6. Keep frying vegetable pieces until you have run out of vegetables and/or batter. It’s time to switch to shrimp tempura!
7. Remove the water-yolk mixture from the refrigerator, and pour 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons of it into the second bowl of the flour-potato starch mixture. Stir—not too vigorously—with chopsticks, just mixing the liquids and solids together, about 30 seconds. The finished tempura batter should be lumpy, and approximately the consistency of thin cream. If you need to thin it, do so with a little tap water.
8. Scoop up loose batter bits from the oil and discard. Turn up the heat, and bring the oil to 350°F.
9. When the oil is ready, pick up a shrimp with chopsticks, dust it lightly with flour, dip it in the tempura batter briefly, then add the shrimp to the hot oil. Keeping it submerged with your chopsticks, quickly drag it a few inches through the hot oil two or three times. Release it; make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom or sides. Perform the batter-drizzle technique (see step 5). Do not turn the shrimp. After a total of about 2 minutes cooking time, the shrimp should be cooked on the inside, light-yellow on the outside, and crispy. Drain on paper towels, salt, and serve. Make sure to scoop up loose bits of batter from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon. As with the vegetable pieces, you can fry several shrimp at the same time once you get into the rhythm. Try to keep the oil at an even 350°F.
Nutritional information includes 1 teaspoon of added salt, and is based on 60 servings for the batter only.