Tempura
 
   Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
 --------  ------------  --------------------------------
                         ---Tempura Ingredients (Tendane)---
                         White-fleshed fish, shrimp, squid, 
                         scallops, vegetables (e.g., eggplant,
                         okra, shiso leaves, shiitake, ginko nuts, etc.)
 
                         -----Batter (Koromo)-----
    1      cup           all-purpose flour -- sifted
    2                    eggs -- lightly beaten
      3/4  cup           ice water -- the colder, the better
    1      tablespoon    sake (Japanese rice wine)
 
                         -----Dipping Sauce (Ten Tsuyu)-----
    2      cups          bonito soup stock (Katsuo Dashi)
      1/2  cup           mirin (sweet seasoning sake)
      1/2  cup           soy sauce
    2      tablespoons   sake (rice wine)
                         Grated daikon (Japanese radish)
                         Grated fresh ginger root
 
                         -----Oil for Deep-frying-----
    8      parts         corn salad oil
    2      parts         sesame oil
 
 Basic concepts:
 
 1) All the non-vegetable ingredients (tendane) should be around the same
 size after dressing (about 4 x 2 inches for fish and shrimp) so that they
 can all be deep-fried in about the same amount of time -- around 1 minute
 is ideal. The vegetables should be kept to about 1/4 inch thick to enable
 them also to cook in around 1 minute.
 
 2) Next the batter (koromo) -- this is what makes or breaks the tempura.
 Important things to keep in mind:
 - Timing is of the essence -- you should mix the batter when you begin to
 heat the deep-frying oil. The batter should be ready just when the oil has
 reached the ideal temperature for the ingredients you are going to deep-fry
 (more on this later), and used right away.
 - The batter should be kept as cold as possible. This will give you a
 light, crispy, non-greasy finish.
 - If you are making a lot of tempura, it is best not to scale the batter
 recipe up to make a large amount at once. Make more batches as you need
 them -- two batches of batter is usually enough for a family of four.
 
 3) About the oil -- the mix given here is the ideal, but any vegetable oil
 will do. Of course, the better the oil, the better the taste. The sesame
 oil gives the tempura a deep, rich aroma.
 
 4) Deep-frying. The oil should be at 160-170C for vegetables, and around
 180C for the fish, shrimp, etc. Maintaining this is another one of the key
 points for achieving success. Also, the stuff in the deep-frying pan/pot
 (we use a wok) should not exceed 60 percent of the surface area of the oil,
 so you can gauge the size you will need to use to work efficiently for the
 amount of tempura you will be making. Don't overcrowd.
 
 5) The dipping sauce (ten tsuyu) recipe has been included here for those
 who really want to go all out. For those who are not so inclined, you
 should be able to get a premixed, bottled version in an Asian market near
 you.
 
 Preparing ingredients:
 
 First the fish. White-fleshed fish makes the best tempura. Ideally, you
 would use smelts, or the like, that are about 4-6 inches in length. Clean,
 behead and butterfly the fish; or if you are using larger fillets, cut them
 down to deep-frying size.
 
 Next the shrimp. Shell and devein, leaving the tail on. Cut off the tips of
 the tail, and press out any water left in them by scraping them with your
 knife. Finally, cut several shallow crosswise incisions along the stomach
 side to prevent the shrimp from curling up when deep-fried, and straighten
 them out as much as possible.
 
 If you have access to squid, it should be skinned, cleaned and cut into
 deep-frying size pieces. Also, use a sharp knife to cut a very shallow
 crosshatch on both sides to help the pieces hold the batter. Scallops, eel,
 etc., also make good tempura ingredients.
 
 The vegetables should be washed, sliced and cut up into deep-frying size
 pieces, and pat dry so that the batter is not diluted. The Japanese like to
 use eggplant, pumpkin, shiitake, lotus root, sweet potato, onion, shiso
 leaves, etc. Experiment to see what’s good for you.
 
 Heat the oil:
 
 Begin heating up the oil on medium heat. Be careful not to let it get too
 hot. You will need to adjust this later as you cook. As the oil is
 heating...
 
 Make the batter:
 
 In a bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs. Add the 3/4 cup ice water and 1 Tbs
 sake (rice wine), and mix. Sift in the flour (about 1 cup) a bit at a time
 and mix until just combined (a few lumps are okay). Do not beat or whisk.
 Chopsticks or a similar stick-like implement work best. IMPORTANT -- do not
 overmix. To check the consistency, stick your chopsticks in and scoop up a
 bit of batter -- it should drip off in a fairly steady, string-like stream.
 Use immediately. If your kitchen is warm, you might want to keep the batter
 bowl on ice.
 
 Deep-frying:
 
 Just when your batter is done, the oil should be at the temperature you want.
 
 Start with the vegetables (shojin age). If you're using a thermometer, the
 oil should be 160-170C. If not, drop a bit of batter into the oil; it
 should sink about half way down the depth of the oil and then turn back
 toward the surface. If it turns back too soon, the oil is too hot; if gets
 too close to the bottom, the oil is not hot enough. You'll just have to
 experiment to get the feel for this.
 
 Dip the vegetables one at a time into the batter to coat in a single pass,
 pausing for a bit over the bowl to let any excess drip off. Slip the piece
 gently into the oil close to the side of the pan/pot. Repeat with the other
 pieces of vegetable. IMPORTANT -- the pieces in the oil should not exceed
 60 percent of the oil’s surface area at any given time. Also make sure that
 each piece has enough “swimming” space of its own as it cooks.
 
 Each piece should be done in about 1 minute. It should be light brown in
 color. When removing the done pieces, snatch them out of the oil from
 directly above and shake off excess oil back into the pan. Transfer to a
 rack.
 
 Replenish the pieces in the pan/pot as you go along, making sure the
 temperature of the oil remains in the ideal range. Don't let it get too
 hot. During this process, you will probably find that there are a lot of
 bits of batter floating around loose in the oil. You should scoop these out
 as often as possible, since they will burn if left in and impart a burnt
 flavor to the oil.
 
 Finally, the seafood. The operation is the same as for the vegetables,
 except that the temperature of the oil should be a bit higher (around
 180C). The pieces here, as well, should be done in about 1 minute. Don't
 forget to keep scooping out the bits of stray batter from the oil.
 
 The tempura should be eaten immediately. They quickly loose their crispness
 if left to sit. The ideal situation is to eat them as they are made -- but
 then there probably wouldn't be any left for the husbands of the world to
 taste.
 
 Dip them into the dipping sauce (ten tsuyu) or have a bit of salt (or salt
 mixed with some curry powder or a spice of your choice) on the side to
 sprinkle on as you eat. Also good are a few slices of lemon to squirt on as
 you eat.
 
 Dipping sauce:
 
 If you are going to make your own dipping sauce (ten tsuyu), prepare it in
 advance.
 
 In a saucepan, heat 2 cups bonito soup stock (katsuo dashi -- instant soup
 stock granules should be available in Asian stores). When it comes to a
 boil, add 1/2 cup mirin (sweet seasoning sake) and 2 Tbs sake; boil long
 enough to evaporate the alcohol. Add 1/2 cup soy sauce and turn off the
 heat (the soy sauce should not boil).
 
 Cool a bit and ladle into small individual dipping bowls. The ten tsuyu
 should be accompanied by a bit of grated Japanese radish (daikon) and a
 small dab of grated ginger root on the side to allow each person to put in
 as much or as little as he or she wishes. The tempura are dipped into this
 broth-like sauce as you eat.