Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 7: Tempura Day

I'm not a big fan of fried foods.  Oh, I've attended "Fried Food" parties where we all brought stuff to fry in a deep fryer and I crave french fries about once a year, but for the most part, I tend to avoid fried foods. 

Except for tempura.  It's pretty much the only fried food I really like.  Tempura is simply an assortment of vegetables dipped in a batter and then fried.  You can dip it in soy sauce, ponzu, or a spicier dip of your choice.  Popular in Japan, tempura can be eaten as the main part of the meal, accompanied with a bowl of miso soup and a bowl of rice, or tempura can be used as a component of a meal.  For example, large bowls of noodles will be topped with various vegetables, fishcakes, and one or two pieces of tempura (tempura soba or tempura ramen).  Some Japanese restaurants will have "combo boxes" where tempura shares the spotlight with another main dish (like teriyaki beef or chicken katsu) with rice, pickled vegetables, salad, and soup on the side.

When I make tempura, I like to use a Japanese batter mix.  Occasionally, I'll make the batter from scratch, but I find using the Japanese batter mix is usually better because it's hard to find the right flour to use.  For the vegetables, I love using sweet potatoes, asparagus, onions, green beans, kabocha, and bell peppers.  I'll use shrimp sometimes, but I only ever need one or two so I hardly ever buy shrimp and just go vegetarian with tempura.

Topping noodles with tempura causes the tempura to end up a little soggy.  Normally, the minute a food gets soggy, I don't want to eat it, but tempura?  Still good.  Using cold, leftover tempura to top Okinawa soba is one of my favorites things to do.  Reheating tempura in the microwave?  Not so much.  Somehow, eating tempura cold and slightly soggy on top of piping hot noodles is just pretty darn good.

No comments:

Post a Comment