Vegetable Tempura

Tempura is a Japanese specialty of deep-fried, delicately battered pieces of fish or vegetables. Here, it’s made with vegetables and paired with a habit-forming gingery dipping sauce. If you have any dipping sauce left over, it’s also delicious with steamed or grilled vegetables, dumplings, or egg rolls.


Serves 4


Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup plain rice vinegar 
  • 2 Tbsp. Asian sesame oil 
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar 
  • 4 to 6 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 1/2 oz. (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lager beer, such as Budweiser 
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 oz. small okra, trimmed (about 12)
  • 3 oz. sugar snap peas, strings removed (about 1 cup)
  • 3 oz. medium green beans, trimmed (15-20)
  • 3 1/2-inch-thick rounds of eggplant, cut into quarters (about 3 oz.)
  • 1 medium carrot, cut on a sharp diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick oblongs (about 4 oz.)

  1. In a small bowl, stir the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add enough vegetable oil to a 14-inch-flat-bottom wok (preferably seasons carbon steel) to measure 1 1/4 inches deep; heat over high heat until the oil registers 365°F on a deep-fry thermometer.
  3. While the oil heats, whisk the flour, beer, and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Working in batches of about 10 pieces, add vegetables to the batter and stir until just coated.
  4. Using wooden chopsticks or tongs, carefully add the first batch of battered vegetables, one at a time, to the oil. Fry, turning the pieces halfways through cooking, until light golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a metal skimmer, strainer, or slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat in batches of 10 vegetables until all are fried, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature. Serve immediately with the soy-ginger dipping sauce.

Deep-Frying with Less Oil: Deep-frying in a wok is ideal because its concave shape requires less oil than a regular pot, and the roominess of the wok lets you fry more food at one time without crowding, which means frying in fewer batches.

Tips for Deep-Frying in a Wok

  • Never fill the wok more than halfway with oil.
  • Use a deep-fry/candy thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.
  • Moisture causes oil to splatter, so thoroughly dry the food to be fried.
  • Add pieces of food to the oil one at a time, or they’ll stick together in a cluster and fry unevenly.
  • Wooden chopsticks are handy for adding ingredients to the oil, but you can use a metal skimmer or strainer (spider) to remove several pieces of fried food at a time.
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