Introduction: Tempura Vegetables and Tofu
After spending Friday at a work event that concluded with a "school disco" and an open bar I have to admit I was feeling a little worse for wear on Saturday morning but that didn't stop me from heading to the MASSIVE Asda in Watford that was *kind* of on my way home. I wandered the aisles and found myself in the "world foods" aisle and in front of a packet of tempura batter mix. At that point, deep fried ANYTHING seemed like the tastiest thing in the world so in my basket it went (along with some seasoned seaweed, shoes and the same cardigan in two colours)...
So this morning (needed a day to recover!) I raided my fridge for anything that seemed worthy of a cripsy tempura coating.
Rather than give instructions on how I covered everything in batter, I'm going to review my random vegetable choices. Coating something in batter isn't rocket science and once it's coated and you've drained any excess batter off, you just put in it some hot oil (the dial on my stove was halfway between low and the highest setting), wait for each side to turn golden brown and crispy then drain on a wire rack/kitchen roll. I had about 1 inch of oil in a pan and found that chopsticks were perfect for turning everything over. If chopsticks aren't your thing then a fork would also work well. I served everything with sweet chilli sauce and a ginger, soy, sesame oil and vinegar sauce.
I was going to use silken tofu but looking back, I'm glad I didn't as I'm pretty sure it would just fall apart because it's so delicate. I used firm tofu then made sure that I'd squashed any moisture out as this would react with the hot oil and cause terrible oil spattering.
Tofu is pretty bland but I just love the texture. I had no idea what it would taste like with a batter so made half plain and half with a dusting of salt and pepper. True to form, the unseasoned tofu just tasted, well, like tofu with batter. The salt and peppered tofu was MUCH better and was delicious with both dipping sauces.
I sliced the spring onion in quarters length-wise so the get the very onion-y end bits and the milder green tops. Although tasty, I think a lot of the lovely spring onion flavour got fried away. In future I would probably just use a regular onion - red onion would probably be lovely!
I had some avocado left over from making guacamole last night and have seen various recipes for avocado fries so thought "what the heck" and battered some wedges. The texture was wonderful - crispy outside and slightly firm and creamy inside. You lose a bit of the avocado flavour from frying but still ok.
Finely sliced red pepper are by far the best thing I tempura-ed. The red pepper is probably one of the only things that didn't need seasoning and overpowered the batter. Because it was fried, the red pepper got a lovely dark colour in places that tasted like it was roasted - delicious!
I've seen tempura broccoli before and although a massive fan of broccoli, I was dubious about how it would taste when battered and fried...I was right. I didn't steam the broccoli beforehand so picked out small pieces to fry. I think the moisture in the broccoli didn't help because although crispy when they came out of the pan, they quickly turned a little stodgy. You could still taste the broccoli flavour but they just weren't as crispy as I would like.
Last minute addition to the tempura madness and I am SO glad I tried it! I love garlic. I sliced a large clove into 3 slices and fried. It's like it's been roasted but with a little more kick to it.
Frying is a tricky thing...Make sure you have lots of ventilation or else everything will smell like fried things. Also make sure that you eat anything you've fried fairly quickly as the moisture from the veg and the tofu will make the batter soggy!.
If you've tempura-ed anything different or have any questions, just let me know!
I've got loads of other recipes on here plus more on my blog so have a look!
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