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Dec 26, 2007 05:35 AM

Tempura help

I'm making tempura (shrimp, green bean, sweet potato) as one course of a New Year's Eve dinner. While I've cooked lots of other Japanese dishes, I've never done this. Any tips? Should I make the batter myself or buy one of the mixes from the Asian market? Thanks...

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  1. Make your own! I'ts no more difficult and probably cheaper than a mix, and you won't have any preservatives or chemicals in the batter. Here's a recipe that will make enough batter to serve 6 as a main course, to batter a pound of shrimp, and assorted vegetables:

    Tempura batter: (to make about 3 cups)
    1 egg yolk
    2 cups ice-cold water
    1/8 teaspoon baking soda
    1 2/3 cup flour

    Combine the egg yolk with the ice-cold water and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. The batter should be somewhat thin and watery, and run easily off the spoon. If too thick, thin it with drops of cold water. The batter should be used shortly after it is made, but it can wait for no more than 10 minutes.

    You can see the ingredient list is so short, you no doubt have all the ingredients on hand, so no reason to purchase a mix.

    Good luck and enjoy your tempura. Homemade freshly fried tempura is so good!

    1. I made some tempura smelt, and while most went well, the tempura mix came off a couple of smelt. How can you get the tempura to "stick"? I've done other kinds of fried smelt several times and not had this problem.

      I want to get this under my belt before I invite friends for an autumnal tempura with small fish, shrimp, and squash etc.

      5 Replies
      1. re: lagatta

        Did you dust them with some flour first? Or whatever dry stuff you used for the tempura

        1. re: youareabunny

          No, though I dried them carefully first. I didn't know that tempura batter required prior dusting, as many Western battered and breaded coatings do. Next time I will.

          But my cat Renzo was happy to eat the nude smelt.

          1. re: lagatta

            Ever since the update I can't link YouTube videos. But if you search wowbento tempura shrimp, that is an excellent video IMO

            he does coat the shrimp in dry mix first. And after placing coated shrimp in fryer he dips his fingers into the batter and flicks more batter onto the shrimp as they fry. Yum

            1. re: youareabunny

              Thanks! Yes, I did flour the smelt with dry tempura mix first, and it solved the problem. I don't have the set-up he has (I do them in a wok) so I didn't attempt the batter flick, but they were fine.

              1. re: lagatta

                You can batter flick in a wok but it's not necessary. But if you want super light and crispy, and more tempura than smelt, that's the way to go ;)

                Some place the tempura shrimp in, allow a stream of batter to fall into the oil then sweep the shrimp across the drops to capture them. Or maybe I'm backwards, drops first, then freshly coated shrimp swept along the drops. Repeat. I've seen them grasp the shrimp by the tail but I'm sure using tongs would be fine. Cheers

      2. I've made tempura at home but I've never been able the get the light lacy texture that I've had at Japanese restaurants, but I've had better results with the mixes than I've had with homemade batter.
        To me, this is what proper tempura should look like:

        2 Replies
        1. re: gmm

          To get the crispy, lacy texture, the batter needs to be thin (think 'runny'), cold, and not over-mixed (it should still be lumpy). The oil has to be hot, too - about 350F.

          1. re: ricepad

            There is also a technique to pouring the batter into the oil in light stream, then dragging the coated and fried shrimp/whatever into the tempura droplets to collect them.