I'm looking for a good tempura batter recipe. Anyone mind sharing? I know sometimes the batter gets all mushy on the inside, so a tried and true recipe that doesn't do that would be appreciated.
Also, how does one get shrimp tempura to be so long like the restaurants? I think they use just one shrimp usually, right? Is it just a really large sized-shrimp?
My mom used to make a few incisions on the side and stretched them out. Then they would fry up so it was long and straight. She also used ice cold batter by place the bowl of batter in an ice bath.
Cook's Illustrated found that tempura batter turns heavy and thick when stirred too much and when sitting too long (too much gluten formation). Cook's Illustrated decreases gluten formation by replacing some of the liquid (selzer water) with vodka . The vodka trick was used in Cook's Illustrated Foolproof Pie Crust Recipe.
Cook's Illustrated Tempura Batter
1.5 Cups All-Purpose Flour
0.5 Cup Corn Starch
1 Large Egg
1 Cup Vodka
1 Cup Selzer Water
Link contains recipe and explaination (scroll down to the Comments area);
Yes, very cold water is most important, and whisk only for a few seconds to avoid gluten formation, even if a few lumps remain. Tempura batter is wheat flour and cold water, nothing more. It's not necessary, but if you like the texture you get by adding some rice flour, go ahead. But eggs, seltzer, and vodka? That's not tempura. It may be tasty but it's more of a variation on beer battered shrimp than tempura.
And check the protein content of your flour. Lower protein brands like Pillsbury or Gold Medal AP (or cake flour) will be more forgiving than King Arthur AP flour.
Oh, yes. If the batter is mushy on the inside, you might be making the batter too thick. It should be the consistency of crepe batter or just a tad thicker.