Monday, November 12, 2012
Sweet Potato Tempura
This past weekend we had friends over for a great sushi-making dinner party. Vegetable sushi rolls have recently become one of our favorite entertaining dishes, as it's fun to make in a large group and much of the prep work can be done ahead of time - cooking the rice, prepping the vegetables, making the sauces. And of course, making one of the best side dishes for sushi - tempura!
As it turns out, this weeks food matters project recipe was sweet potato and corn fritters, thus sweet potato tempura was a perfect recipe twist.
Tempura batter is incredibly versatile and can be used to add a perfect crunch to anything you fry. We chose sweet potatoes because of their sweet flavor and contrast between soft interiors and crunchy shells created by the tempura batter. It would be equally good with any number of other vegetables, including broccoli, onions, asparagus, carrots, green beens, and cauliflower.
We wanted to make the tempura ahead of time so we weren't making a mess while guests were over and in doing so stumbled upon a great trick to ensuring perfectly cooked vegetables. After frying the sweet potatoes we put them on a cooling rack in a hot oven to keep them warm. This also helped finish cooking the insides (which were slightly hard after frying) which resulted in super creamy interiors yet perfectly crisp exteriors.
Grab some local vegetables at your market and give this fun side dish a try! Also check out Bittman's Sweet Potato and Corn Fritters on Dinner with Aura.
Adapted from Giada de Laurentils
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup sparkling water
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1/4 inch sliced vegetables (sweet potatoes, onions, asparagus, broccoli, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350*F and heat 1/2 inch oil in cast iron pan over medium-high heat.
In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add in the sparkling water and sesame oil. Stir until just combined and still lumpy. The batter should be thick but still liquid (add a little more water or flour to get desired texture).
When oil is hot (test by dropping a little batter into it), dip vegetables into batter then shake of excess. Drop into hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and fry on other side until golden brown, another 3 minutes. If the batter is the right consistency, it will form a thick crust over vegetables and not leave excess batter in the oil.
Place on wire rack on baking sheet in hot oven (this will help finish cooking the vegetables if they are still slightly hard). Serve with Asian dipping sauce (hot sauce, soy sauce, grated ginger, grated garlic).