Tempura may be sinful. Being Japanese, I eat it at least once a month to satisfy my hunger of crispy tasty deep fries. Good Tempura is crispy outside and vegetables inside are tender. The key to make crispy Tempura is to make cold batter and heat oil hot enough but not too hot.Be careful treating hot oil when you make Tempura as you would make any deep fried food.
I usually make Tempura batter with egg, unbleached flour, ice and water, vegetable oil. The recipe is very simple. Bell peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, Kabocha pumpkin are good to make Tempura. If you use fish, shrimp, meat or Tofu, dry them with paper towel and coat them with flour before dipping into the batter. I picked Mint and tender dandelion leaves and made Tempura. Mint was good and Dandelion was bit bitter. If you have potatoes, onion, carrot, and green beans or Asparagus, julienne them mix together and put them into the batter. I rolled Scoop the mixture with spoon and drop into the oil to make colorful vegetable Tempura. I usually use thick heavy frying pan with 2 inches depth and fill it with vegetable oil half full. I often eat Tempura with the Tonkatsu sauce such as Bulldog or Ikari brand rather than fancy Tempura sauce served at the restaurant.
Here is Japanese home-style Tempura recipe:
1 cup of flour more or less
1 cup ice and water combined
Pinch of Salt (optional)
Vegetable oil (I use soy bean oil or Canola oil)
1. Prepare vegetables by chopping onion, cutting sweet potatoes; take the ends and cut green beans and etc.
2. Pour the half full of the oil to a deep heavy frying pan. Turn on the stove to high and heat the oil.
3. Mix an egg and ice and water and add flour. Mix them together lightly to make batter. Over-mixing will generate too much gluten.
4. Test oil temperature by dropping tempura batter into the oil. If it sinks, the oil is too cool. If the batter goes down the bottom and float in 3 seconds, the oil is ready. If the batter floats on the surface of the oil, it is too hot.
5. When the oil is hot and ready, coat the vegetables with the batter and drop gently into the hot oil to fry. Several vegetables can be cooked at once. However, too many vegetables lower the oil temperature.
6. Take the Tempura out of the oil when the batter is crispy and ready. Place on the plate with paper towel to remove excess oil.
7. Clean the oil by taking the remaining batter out of the oil.
8. Repeat 5 and 6.
9. Dish the Tempura and dip into Tonkatsu sauce and eat it.