Tempura: Pescetarian friendly cooking
While every country has deep fried food, tempura is unique to Japan. There are many variations cropping up all over the world, including dishes with chili sauce, or ones that use beef or chicken. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves, first we should become familiar with the Japanese version!
At one time basic tempura in Japan consisted of vegetables, wild plants, and seafood. Traveling back to the roots of the dish, only seafood fritters were considered tempura, while at the other side of the table Buddhist monks only accepted vegetables. Both are treated differently in a historical context, though now the term encompasses both styles.
More goes into tempura than battered food. It all starts with the oil—Sesame, cottonseed, olive, tea seed, and more. Some professional chefs have a unique blend of original flavors. My personal favorite is sesame oil. What’s the secret ingredient? Some people say that the batter prevents the savory flavor of the dish from boiling out in the oil. And everyone loves the snap, crackle, and crunch when you bite into a piece!
Tempura is pescetarian friendly cooking. The batter includes egg, but the chef will be happy to serve you up a bushel of fresh vegetables and seafood.
Leave it to the pros!
Despite the popularity of the dish, not many Japanese people make tempura. Cutlets are easy; Tempura, not so much. Everything starts with the batter. It has to be light to give it that crispy crunch! Thick or soggy batter ruins the most delicious of ingredients.
You’re better off leaving it to the pros! Some restaurants prepare the food right in front of you. Watch the chef, or Itamae-San, in action as they display the quick, elegant timing needed tofry up the perfect dish.
But be careful with your first bite! It’s piping hot. Try it plain, sprinkled with salt,
or with flavored powders such as green tea, curry, yuzu (a citrus fruit), or pepper! Dip it in light broth with grated Daikon radish for another rich flavor experience. But don’t take too much time deciding how to snack on your tempura—The next piece is ready right behind it!
Published: January 31, 2011