The New Year is on its way (can you believe it?), so that means making new goals and trying new things...at least for me. I really want to investigate a few styles of cuisine that I have experienced or even cooked before, but want to see what I can do with the ingredients we have here in our fair city.
I got started early on my goals by tackling Tempura. I believe that anyone who tries tempura is truly amazed at what the Japanese have done to fried food. Tempura, if prepared correctly, is minimal on the grease, texturally exciting, packs massive taste from both the batter and the fresh ingredients, and is completely addictive. Oh yes, addictive.
For seasoning, I simply went for salt and chili powder to give it a little kick. I felt like a tempura dipping sauce would have been a little much...and might not allow the integrity of the okra to shine through. Being the first time trying it, I wanted to get the full effect. I think that a lighter sauce, perhaps with a citrus base instead of soy base would go well with these. Honestly, I was satisfied just popping them in my mouth until they were all gone.
Let's get on with the tempura technique. I think that the tutorial by Chef Tadashi Ono via Saveur is spot on. I'll outline what I did here and you can check out the video and tutorial on Saveur from there!
2 1/2 C Cake flour
2 Egg yolks
2 C Ice water
1/4 C Crushed ice cubes
|Dredging in cake flour first|
Heat a cast iron skillet with about an inch of canola or vegetable oil to 360º add 1/4 C sesame oil before you start frying for that authentic tempura flavor. Plus, it smells awesome! If you don't have a thermometer, check the temperature with the batter. The batter should bead and immediately rise and bubble to the top.
Put 1/2 C cake flour on a plate to dredge the okra in first. This step will help the tempura batter adhere to the okra. You can dredge them before your prepare the tempura batter to ensure that the batter is fresh. When the flour from dredging and the batter meet, you get that quintessential tempura batter with crispy bits intact!
|Tempura batter mixing with 4 chopsticks|
Place two egg yolks in a large bowl. Using two chopsticks mix the yolks with 2C ice water, ice included. This reduces gluten absorption. Then grasp four chopsticks and hold upright so that they make a square in the bowl. Do not use a whisk, do not use a fork, just take the chopsticks without fear (and a little practice), and gently incorporate the flour with the egg-water mixture. Your batter should be lumpy because those flour bubbles are gold. The batter will reach the consistency of heavy cream. At this point your oil should be hot and your okra should be dredged and ready for action!
|Leave room for even frying!|
|Drain on towels|
Fry in batches until you are all out of okra. Remember to sprinkle with seasoning while hot. Then immediately consume with joy and happiness knowing that you can take techniques from across the world and transform our ingredients here at home. Stay curious and stay hungry!
|Final product! Eat away!|