• Moreton Bay bug tempura (The Chefs' Line)

Sokyo's insider tips to making the crunchiest, lightest tempura.

Serves
1

Preparation

30min

Cooking

10min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Tempura is an art form in Japan and as with many specialist Japanese cooking, people train for many years to master the craft.

However, you can easily make tempura at home. Follow these tips and tricks to making tempura batter like a master:

1. The secret to Sokyo's crispy light batter is potato starch, used in combination with tempura flour, which gives it that extra crunch.

2. Our tempura batter doesn't come together like a typical batter. It's really important that the batter is ice cold, so we mix the ingredients with ice cubes.

3. We use sparkling water or soda water to make the batter light.

4. Mix the batter by hand, so it isn't overworked as you don't want it to become doughy.

5. The addition of rice vinegar really makes the flavour of the batter pop.

6. To add a layer of extra crunch, we thin down the batter slightly, then use our fingers to drizzle and "flick" drops of the batter over the tempura to create flakes called tenkasu, which adhere to the tempura like a lacy coat.

7. Tempura should never be cooked to dark golden - you're aiming for a light colour. You can tell when the batter is ready and has sealed around the meat or vegetable by watching the bubbles around the pieces - they will begin to get smaller and smaller.

Ingredients

Amazu sauce

  • 15 ml rice vinegar
  • 10 g table salt
  • 10 g caster sugar 

 

Spicy mayo

  • 10 g chilli garlic paste (see Note)
  • 15 ml amazu sauce (see above)
  • 70 g good-quality mayonnaise 

 

Salad

  • 10 g julienned green papaya
  • 3 g pomelo, finely diced
  • 2 g micro mizuna
  • 3 g eschalot, thinly sliced
  • 2 g red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 5 ml amazu (see above) 

 

Tempura

  • 1 handful of ice-cubes
  • 5 ml rice vinegar (see Note)
  • 100 g tempura flour, plus extra for dusting (see Note)
  • 30 g potato starch (see Note)
  • 250–300 ml chilled sparkling water
  • 2 Moreton bay bugtails
  • cooking oil, for deep-frying

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Chilling time: 15 minutes

For the amazu sauce,put everything in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl set over an ice-water bath to cool. (Makes more than you need.) 

For the spicy mayo, blend the amazu and chilli-garlic paste in a blender till super fine and smooth, transfer to a bowl and whisk in the mayonnaise. Set aside. 

For the salad, combine the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. 

For the tempura, remove the bugtail meat and slice into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the oil in a deep-sided saucepan to 175ºC.

Place the ice-cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add the vinegar, then the flour and potato starch, and then pour over the sparkling water. Mix in with your hands – it’s okay if there are still some lumps, but don’t overwork batter or it will become too doughy. The consistency should be just enough to coat the bugtails in a thin batter without being runny.

Lightly coat the bugtail pieces with tempura flour, then dip into the batter.

Gently drop them into the oil and, if they are sticking to each other, separate with chopsticks.

Thin out the remaining batter with a little water. Dip your fingertips into the thinned-out batter (or use a spoon) and flick the batter over the bugtails while cooking to add another layer of crunch. Cook until lightly golden and the bubbles around the pieces beginning to get smaller and smaller (a sign that the batter has sealed around the meat and steam is no longer escaping).

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel on a wire rack. Season with salt.

Place on a plate (lined with tempura paper, if you like), arrange the salad on top with the sauce on the side.

 

Chef’s notes 

• Tempura flour, potato starch, rice vinegar are available from Japanese grocers. 

• Chilli garlic paste is a Chinese paste available from Asian grocers; I prefer to use Lee Kum Kee brand.

 

Chase Kojima is the head chef of Sokyo and Gojima. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.