---------- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.02
  
       Title: Tempura
  Categories: Japanese, Seafood
       Yield: 6 servings
  
            Stephen Ceideburg
       1 lb Raw shrimp, deveined
       2    Green Peppers
       1    Carrot
       1 sm Eggplant (1/2 lb
       1 md Sweet potato
       6    Shiitake mushrooms
       6    Inch piece raw squid
       2 md Onions
            Vegetable oil
            BATTER
       2    Egg yolks
       2 c  Ice-water
       2 c  Sifted all purpose flour
     3/4 c  All-purpose flour
            DIPPING SAUCE
       1 c  Ichiban dashi
       3 tb Light soy sauce
       1 tb Mirin
       1 tb Sugar
     1/4 c  Grated daikon (white radish)
       2 ts Fresh ginger, grated
  
   TEMPURA is one of the most familiar of all Japanese
   dishes, both at home and abroad. This familiar
   national dish finds its place in the Kyushu section
   because it was almost certainly invented in
   Nagasaki-not, however, by the Japanese. Between 1543
   and 1634 Nagasaki was the center of a great community
   of missionaries and traders from Spain and Portugal.
   Like homesick foreigners everywhere, they did their
   best to cook foods from their home countries, and
   batter-coated and deep-fried shrimp happened to be a
   particular favorite throughout southern Europe. The
   name tempura (from Latin tempera meaning 'times')
   recalls the Quattuor Tempora ('The Four Times', or
   'Ember Days') feast days on the Roman Catholic
   calendar when seafood, especially shrimp, were eaten.
   When the dish became Japanized, however, its range was
   extended almost infinitely. Beef, pork and chicken are
   almost the only things not prepared as tempura, and
   these all have separate deep-frying traditions anyway.
   Favorite foods for tempura treatment include shrimp,
   eggplant, snow peas, sweet potato slices, mushrooms of
   all sorts, carrots, peppers, squid, small whole fish,
   lotus root, small trefoil leaves and okra (ladies'
   fingers). The crucial factor in making good tempura is
   the batter. This should be so light and
   subtly-flavored that it could almost pass as an
   elaborate seasoning. There are only three ingredients
   in it, and all three have an equally important part to
   play in producing the sort of tempura you want. Egg
   yolk is beaten very slightly first, then some
   ice-water is added. Finally, finely sifted flour is
   added. Reducing the egg amount will make the finished
   batter coating lighter in color; more egg will make a
   golden tempura (the former is preferred in Osaka, the
   latter in Tokyo). The amount of ice-water determines
   the relative heaviness or lightness of the batter--for
   very light, lacy tempura, add more water. The flour
   should be barely mixed with the other ingredients--to
   achieve real lightness, the batter should look lumpy,
   undermixed and unfinished-looking, and it must always
   be prepared just before you use it; thoroughly mixed,
   silky batter that has been allowed to 'set' and settle
   simply will not produce good tempura. Preparation:
   Score the shrimp a few times crosswise on the
   underside, to prevent them curling-up during
   deep-frying. Tap the back of each shrimp with the
   back-edge of your knife. Core and remove the seeds
   from the peppers; trim and slice into strips. Wash and
   scrape the carrot; cut into strips about 1 1/2 long
   and 1/8 wide. Peel the eggplant, leaving 1/2 strips
   of the peel intact here and there for decorative
   effect. Cut in half lengthwise, then into slices 1/4
   thick. Wash the slices and pat them dry with kitchen
   towelling. Peel the sweet potato and slice it
   crosswise into 1/2 rounds. Cut the mushrooms in half.
   Cut the flattened piece of squid into 1/2 squares.
   Cut the onions in half. Push toothpicks into the onion
   at 1/2 intervals, in a straight line. Then slice the
   onions midway between the toothpicks. The toothpicks
   will hold the layers of onion together in each of the
   sliced section Pour the vegetable oil into a large pot
   or electric skillet. The oil should be heated to about
   350 degree F. Make the batter in two batches . Place
   one egg yolk into a mixing bowl; add one cup of
   ice-water and mix with only one or two strokes. Then
   add 1 cup of flour, and mix as before, with only a few
   brief strokes. Prepare the second batch of batter when
   the first is used up. The batter should be lumpy, with
   some undissolved flour visible. Check the oil for
   heat: drop a bit of batter into the oil; if the batter
   sinks slightly beneath the surface, then comes right
   back up surrounded by little bubbles, your oil is
   ready. Dip each item into flour first this ensures
   that each ingredient is perfectly dry and that the
   batter will adhere well. Then dip in the batter, shake
   a little to remove any excess batter, and slide into
   the oil. Fry each piece for about 3 minutes, or until
   lightly golden. In order to maintain the oil
   temperature, make sure that no more than a third of
   the surface of the oil is occupied by bubbling pieces
   of frying food. Remove the pieces from the oil and
   drain for a few seconds. Then transfer to your guests'
   plates, also lined with attractive absorbent paper.
   You may also keep tempura warm in a 250 degree F oven,
   no longer than about 5 minutes. To make the dipping
   sauce: combine the dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar
   in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar has
   dissolved and serve warm, with a little grated daikon
   and ginger on the side for each guest to combine with
   the dipping sauce according to taste. Dip the tempura
   in the sauce and eat.
   
   From “Japanese Cooking”, John Spayde, Chartwell Books
   Inc. ISBN 0-89009-822-0
  
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