The secret to a good tempura batter is the reduction of gluten, the protein in wheat flour that gives strength to pasta and bread. Keeping the tempura batter cold and dry inhibits the formation of gluten, which can make a tempura batter doughy and tough. The lower the gluten, the lighter the batter.
- 2 litres (8 cups) vegetable oil, for frying
- selection of your favourite ingredients, such as shiitake mushrooms, prawns, eggplant slices, sweet potato slices and white fish
- 300 g (2 cups) low-gluten flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 egg
- 500 ml (2 cups) water
- 5 ice cubes
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.
Freezing time overnight
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
To make the tempura batter, sift the flour onto a tray and place in a frost-free freezer overnight.
Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan to the correct temperature for your selection of favourite ingredients (as a general rule, seafood that cooks quickly can be fried at around 175°C, and vegetables that take slightly longer to cook can be fried at 165°C).
For the tempura batter, mix the egg, water and ice cubes in a jug until well combined. In small batches as you need them, add a little of the egg mixture to a small bowl and sift in some of the chilled flour. Stir only very lightly to combine (the batter will still be very lumpy).
Take the ingredients and lightly dust them with a little of the extra flour, then dip lightly into the batter. Allow most of the batter to drip away, then add to the hot oil. With chopsticks, flip each ingredient in the oil to ensure it cooks evenly. With a wire mesh, skim the oil to remove any batter bits. When the ingredient is cooked through, remove from the oil and place on a wire rack. Serve immediately.
Makes 1 litre of batter, approximately.