Tempura With Eggplant, Sweet Jams, Asparagus- Ca Tim, Khoai Lang Do, Mang Tay Nhung Bot Chien Kieu NhatMake 4 servings
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted twice and chilled overnight in the fridge
1 cup ice cold water
1 egg, beaten either at room temperature for good fresh eggs or cold from the fridge
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1/2 large eggplant or 2-3 thin small eggplants
8 asparagus tips
1/2 sweet jam or large potato
1/2 small carrot, julienned
1 small parsnip, julienned
2.5 oz sugar peas or snow peas, julienned
All-purpose flour to dredge
Vegetarian ten-tsuyu sauce:
1 cup water
2-3 large dried shiitake, soaked in the above water overnight
4 Tbs shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
1/2 Tbs sugar
4 Tbs mirin
Non-Vegetarian ten-tsuyu sauce: use 1 cup dashi stock instead of water.
4 inches daikon, peeled, finely grated
1 inch ginger, peeled, finely grated
1. Cut the eggplant with the skin into 1/4-inch slices, leaving slices attached at one end, press down slices to make a fan shape. Small eggplant can be sliced in whole and large eggplant should be cut in half. If the eggplant has hard seeds, cut into 2 /small or 4/ large eggplant lengthways and cut off most of the white flesh with seeds. Then cut each pieces into 2 crosswise. Peel the sweet jam or potato and cut into 1/3-inch rounds or slices. Break off the tough ends of asparagus, wash and drain.
2. Remove the shiitake from the water, squeeze out all of water, save the mushroom for other use. Mix the shiitake water, shoyu and mirin in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and remove from the heat.
3. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a large skillet (at least 1/2-inch deep of oil ) to 340 oF/170 oC.
4. While waiting the oil gets hot, prepare the batter. Strain the beaten egg through a fine mesh into a large bowl and gradually stir in cold water a little at a time. Sift the chilled flour again into the egg and water mixture and lightly fold with a fork just 5-6 strokes. Do not stir. The batter should be loosely mixed but thin and lumpy. However, some chefs just whisk the flour, egg and 1/2 water is whisked until smooth, then the rest of water is whisked in.
5. Turn on the oven to 200 oF. Dip the eggplant pieces into the batter one by one. The batter is quite runny and not too much will adhere to the eggplant and fry in hot oil for 3-5 minutes until the batter is light golden on one side. Turn and cook the other side for about 2 minutes. Drain on wire rack sitting on baking sheet, and keep warm in the oven. Scoop out the loose batter pieces from the oil occasionally when they are golden brown. Add veggie in at a slow speed to prevent the temperature drop down too quick. Adjust heat level during frying to keep the oil temperature at 340 oF.
6. Finally, fry mixed tempura. Put all julienned carrot, parsnip, and peas into a medium bowl. Sprinkle a little bit flour and toss well. Pour the remaining batter in and mix well. Take a ladleful of mixture, slide into the hot oil and fry about 2-3 minutes, turn one or twice until golden brown and crisp. Then drain on the wire rack. Tempura can be keep warm @ 200 oF oven about 1/2 hour before serve.
7. Serve hot with warm ten-tsuyu sauce.
4 inches square dried konbu (kelp)
1 oz dried bonito /kezuribushi/skipjack tuna flakes (a good handful)
4 cup water
Quick rinse konbu under running water and put it into the medium saucepan with water. Bring it to the boil over medium high heat. Just before it reaches to the boil, take out the konbu, add the fish flakes, and remove from heat. Let it sit until all the flakes settle to the bottom. Strain through a fine sieve. If you are a frugal cook, save and freeze the used konbu and fish flakes to make second dashi which is weaker but still flavorful. Simmer them with water for a while and use it in stews and other dishes.