Not as hard as you think...better than ordering takeout...and faster, too!
All you need are fresh vegetables, flour, an egg, salt, and water or seltzer (or even beer). The real secret to flawless frying is a little patience and a little pause (see the instructions below). Nervous about making your own batter? Tempura mix can be jazzed up with a little lemon zest grated right into the batter to add a brightness to this fried dish. This recipe is a fun foil to help kids learn to love their veggies. Extra long cuts of broccoli and carrots make it a blast to dip and dunk these tender spears into a seasoned soy sauce.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; small and large mixing bowls; spoon; microplane or zester; deep fryer, stockpot, or Dutch oven for frying, spider or slotted spoon; candy thermometer; sheet pan with paper towels
Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 large head broccoli, trimmed and cut into long spears
4 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut lengthwise in half or quarters
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices
2 cups flour
2 large eggs
2 cups very cold seltzer (or ice water water or very cold beer)
zest of 1 lemon
vegetable oil for frying
1. First combine all the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
ILOC tip: zest your lemons for the batter before you juice them for the dipping sauce. It's all about technique, not torture!
2. In deep fryer, 8-quart stockpot, or Dutch oven with a candy thermometer attached, heat oil (over medium heat if not in a deep fryer) to reach 375ºF.
3. To make the tempura batter, whisk the flour, egg, salt, and seltzer (or water or beer) in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined and all lumps have been removed. Add the lemon zest to the tempura batter and mix just to combine.
"Broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes are the kid-friendliest tempura veggies. Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), eggplant, scallions, shiitake, and asparagus are grown-up favorites. Use any vegetables you like following this foolproof batter recipe and frying procedure."
4. Working with three pieces of vegetable at a time, dip the broccoli spears/carrot batons/sweet potato discs into the tempura batter to fully coat. Holding the end of one broccoli stalk/carrot/sweet potato, remove from the batter and allow excess batter to drip off before placing in the oil. Then place the head of the broccoli stalk/end of the carrot/sweet potato slice 1-inch deep into the oil while still holding the stem/end. Hold for three seconds and then gently release (to avoid sticking to the bottom on the pan!). Repeat with remaining vegetable pieces.
5. With a spider or slotted spoon, gently turn each piece in the oil after about 30 seconds and cook until the tempura coating is light brown and the vegetables are cooked crisp tender, about 90 seconds. Remove the tempura to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining vegetables, in batches of three. Continue to adjust heat in order to maintain an oil temperature of 375ºF.
ILOC tip: preheat your oven 250ºF to keep warm the completed tempura on a rimmed sheet pan as you continue to cook the vegetables in batches!
6. Serve the broccoli tempura immediately with the dipping sauce.
Makes 4-6 servings.