May 22, 2011

Summary of Tempura Making 3 (Final)/天ぷら作りのまとめ3(最終)

Finally, as I said before, making decent tempura is difficult even for native Japanese. There are two decisive factors, the temperature of the oil and the thickness of the batter.

In general, the oil temperature should be 160-170C for vegetables and 180C for fish and seafood. Obviously, thin batter results in thin coating, while thick batter results in thick coating. Ingredients that need to be deep-fried for a long time require thick batter. Sweet potato is a typical example.

Notes on kakiage: It may be difficult to make light, non-greasy kakiage. There are several techniques for making kakiage. A common one is to first dust the ingredients in a bowl, then pour some batter, mix, scoop some of the ingredients, using a ladle or a large spoon (be sure to return any excess batter to the bowl), and put in the tempura pot to deep-fry, as I mentioned here (post #43). Alternatively, omit the dusting step and simply add some batter.
Another is to add some flour to ingredients in a bowl, add enough cold water, mix, and scoop some of the ingredients, and put in the pot to deep-fry.

Tempura Kondo: Some of those who have viewed the photos of tempura served at the tempura restaurant, Tempura Kondo, may have wondered what the semi-cylindrical object was (in the top left photo as of May 21). I mean this one. It is sweet potato tempura about 7 cm in height, and it is regarded as one of Kondo's best pieces. According to this site (Japanese only), it is made as follows:
1. Cut sweet potato into rounds about 7 cm in height.
2. Coat with batter, put in a pot of 180C oil, and deep-fry while turning over frequently.
3. When the surface is done, transfer to a pot of 170C, and deep-fry for 30 min.
4. Take out from the pot and wrap in paper towel for 5 to 7 min.
5. Cut (in half? lengthwise) and serve.

So, how did Kondo come up with this unusual sweet potato tempura?

He used to make sweet potato tempura in a usual way, using thin rounds of sweet potato, but he felt it left something to be desired. He thought it was off balance, and didn't find it tasty at all.

Around dawn in late fall, Kondo was having hot yaki imo (roasted sweet potato) he had bought at a stall. He thought that yaki imo bought out the flavor of sweet potato. "Why can't I do the same by tempura-ing?"
After much trial and error, Kondo's original sweet potato tempura was completed in the fall of the second year after he opened the restaurant.

Other interesting pieces of tempura at Tempura Kondo include
Carrot tempura, made with very thin strips of carrot and
Green pepper tempura, which is a whole green pepper with seeds in it that is battered and deep-fried (I guess several holes are made to prevent explosion).

There is so much to talk about tempura, but I'd like to go on to the next topic, Shinya Shokudo!

Added to add:
This page (Japanese only) explains how to make kakiage, with photos, using the tempura mix for business use that I mentioned in Summary of Tempura Making 2.

Ingredients for three pieces:
160 g onion
30 g carrot
10 g shungiku
100 g water
100 g tempura mix

1. Put 200 g (= 160 + 30 + 10) vegetables and 100 g tempura mix in a bowl and mix well.
2. Add 100 g water.
3. Mix well until no longer floury.
4. Place some ingredients in a ladle, unraveling any entangled ingredients fluffily(?).
5. Sink the ladle slowly into the oil.
6. When the ingredients are done to some degree, remove them from the ladle. Flip in 2 min., and deep-fry for another 1 min. Drain well.

Japanese text omitted.


Kiki said...

Oh, I love Shungiku (Chrysanthemum coronarium)- must order seeds before it's too late.
I deep fry (batter coated) small peppers (or jalapenos filled with cheese) quite often and it is a question of karma, weather or something else if the batter may crumble away or not. The pepper peel seems to have some kind of lotus-effect. Very fresh peppers are the worst.

Watched all Shinya shokudo episodes last weekend. My DVD-Set arrived saturday (lucky!!!). The DVD has been shipped from Malaysia and the english subtitles are quite challenging (laugh).

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: I must confess that I'm not much of a shungiku fan. My wife loves it, though.

I wonder if the quality of the translation of your DVDs is good enough. I find many of the translations in the drama that I watch on are unsatisfactory and frustrating.

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, thank you for one more detailed post with lost of tips and instructions. The thin strips of carrot look very impressing on the photo (especially for someone, who tried to make kakiage at least once...) and the whole pepper looks exactly like my snow peas! I mean the coating. When I made snow peas tempura the coating was "detached" in the same way! It was however very greasy.
I am looking forward to read about Shinya Shokudo! Are you planning to present the recipes from each episode? I'm very curious now.
Tonight I'm doing my first shrimp tempura for dinner (and grilled eringi mushrooms too, this part will be easier). I will try to follow your tempura advice, although probably using the ready-to-use tempura mix (I think the standard flour I have looks very heavy in comparison with the flour you use, I'll have to look for a finer one). If the shrimps curl even with belly cuts, it doesn't matter, the taste is the most important. Thank you once more for all the efforts you have put into so many tempura posts.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: I noticed the "detached" coating, too. Maybe even the best tempura chef cannot prevent this from happening...

I just want to provide some info about that drama so those who are not very familiar with Japanese culture can better understand this masterpiece.

I think I'll add some more info about kakiage later.

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki: additional information for foreigners sounds like a great idea. I am sure there are many things I haven't understood or would love to know. I have noticed too, some subtitles are really bad.
Kiki: deep-fried small peppers filled with cheese sound yummy! I must try it one day.
Shungiku sounds very mysterious to me, maybe I could grow it on my balcony... I have managed with mitsuba, so why not chrysanthemum?

Kiki said...

Hiroyuki: The translation is very bad. The subtitles totally neglect personal pronouns, temps, conjugations of verbs and the word order. Somehow the translation reminds me of some kind of 1:1 translation by robot, starting from japanese into german, afterwards from german to hindi and at least to english (english with japanese grammar...). Who ever made his/her income with the writing should pay the money back (laugh). I know it is hard for japanese or chinese people to learn european languages. I am learning japanese since 2 years and do know the differences. Lucky, I am not that badly in need of well written subtitles.

fred said...

Hiroさん, I almost forgot to ask this.
If the batter mixture is made in larger quantity & kept refrigerated (or frozen, maybe) for certain purpose and take a time (3 days perhaps), is it still usable to make a decent tenpura?
*sorry if my question is silly :(

Oh; also, I would like to know some knowledge about Tea from you if there's any...

thank you!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: I can't give you a definitive answer, because I haven't made such a large amount of tempura batter that I have to put the leftover in the fridge or freezer. I guess you can make tempura of some sort, but not decent tempura (but that really depends on your perception of what decent tempura means to you).

I would use such leftover tempura batter for other uses, like making okonomiyaki or an "American dog" (the Japanese version of "corn dog" in the United States).

Maybe you could try using leftover tempura batter to make tempura and post the results here (laugh)!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: I forgot to answer your second question.

Tea? What tea? I can only talk about green tea.
I like green tea. It's the only type of tea I drink regularly. As I mentioned somewhere in my blog, I drink more than 2 liters of green tea a day, and I like kuchi cha (stalk tea) the best because it's light, refreshing, and cheap!
I like to make "shibui" (astringent) tea with very hot water (> 90C).

What knowledge do you want to know about tea?

fred said...

I've tried your recipe yesterday night, but with some batter modification.
100ml plain water
75ml soda water
1pcs egg yolk
80gr low gluten flour
30gr corn flour
It's really nice batter, but the crispiness can't longer lasting when cold for some ingredients like carrot and paprika. I think it because the main ingredient contains many water...

and I've tried kogomi tenpura. It's really nice!w
(sorry no picture, I was in a rush back there)

Actually, I'd like to try any kind of tea...
I've tried some typical of japanese tea from kukicha, bancha, to higher quality like gyokuro. But I never tried some seasonal tea like mugicha and amacha... :(

If you don't mind and have any free time, please post to special topic later :D

thank you!!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: Thank *you* for a great report! You did a great job!

You added a lot of soda water and 27% (30/(30+80) = 0.27...) corn flour, and yet you were not successful in keeping the tempura crispy when cold... As you point out, all tempura will eventually become less crispy and soggy over time due to the water from within the ingredients. I wonder what other secret ingredients a premade tempura mix contains...
I often use a toaster oven to reheat leftover tempura.

I like mugicha! I will post about it and some other teas when I have more free time, but in the meantime, check out this thread about mugicha:

fred said...

Perhaps after cutting the ingredients, using paper towel/napkin to drains the water should works... I'll try it again later!
About my question about keeping the batter in refrigerator/freezer; I've been thinking it's better to spend it all out than keeping it!

anyway, this is kogomi I've found at local market here. It cannot be called fiddlehead, is it?(笑)
Back to the tea, I've read on egullet and make me really curious... Is it "a must" to drink mugicha when cold or iced?

By the way, this is my current green tea I have for now (sorry for bad camera shoot)
I prefer grassy-like smell rather than seaweed smell for sencha! But this one is mostly like seaweed smell :(

Hiroyuki said...

fred: As for the fiddlehead, I agree with you. The ones shown in the photo can no longer be called fiddleheads...

I identified your tea:
High-class deep-steamed green tea!!
And it's 1,890 yen per 100 g in Japan!! Are you a rich man?? (laugh) My kuchicha is 500 yen per 100 g, and I find it good enough for me...

So, I just wonder what you mean by seaweed smell... Maybe the temperature of the water??

Mugicha is good either chilled or hot, and it is caffein-free. And, it's not bitter or shibui (astringent). It's an ideal tea for everyone!

fred said...

I'm not drinking it for 2 liters a day, right?(笑)

About the temperature I've used just around 60C~70C. It's bitter at first, but later very sweet. And my Japanese friend also said to me, "it's even too sweet for Japanese people!"
Actually it can't be called "seaweed", but more closely to "marine" flavor...

Maybe later I should buy online for mugicha!(笑)

About tenpura batter ingredient, I've found that rice flour (not the sticky/glutinous one) is a better substitute for potato starch or corn starch.
It still have good texture even when getting cold!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: I have no idea what it will cost to order mugicha online... Mugicha is such a cheap product. Maybe you could buy some barley and try roasting it yourself.

Thanks for mentioning rice flour (kome ko). Maybe I should grow out of the type of batter I'm familiar with and try adding other ingredients like rice flour.

fred said...

Unfortunately, there's no barley sold here... how inconvenient! orz

I'm glad to found satsuma-imo at nearest convenient store! (*´▽`*)
Try out some batter composition again! check this
I'm lack of ingredient, so I have to use anything in my fridge!(笑)
It's purple local spinach, soybean cake, and satsuma-imo

I love to eat steamed/roasted satsuma-imo rather than imo-ten :(

Hiroyuki said...

fred: Soybean cake tempura?! Wow, I'd like to have some!
One of my son's favorite tempura is natto tempura, but I don't want to make it because if I make it, the whole house is filled with natto flavor.

I'm sorry to hear about the imo ten. Well, I'd say we all need variations in cooking. Sometimes we crave something roasted/steamed, and sometimes we crave something deep-fried, right?

fred said...

Soybean Cake or known as Tempeh rarely sold in Japan, but through googling I've found this. Check it out :D

Oh anyway, about natto tenpura, how to make it? I'm curious!w

I've found that my first imo-ten was less delicious because of bad quality of . I bought another different product today! It's organic & more sweet&delicious than before!!

Also about barley, my friend told me there's a supplier that sold barley. I'd like to find out tomorrow!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: Thanks for your clarification and the links. I had assumed from the photo you linked to previously that the soybean cake was tempeh. Tempeh was unheard-off until a few years ago in Japan, but is slowly gaining popularity. I'll start by searching for it in large supermarkets here such as JUSCO.

My wife's recipe for natto tempura is quite simple: Just add some natto to the batter.
Some recipes say to add aonori to the batter, and others say to mix natto with other ingredients like negi, chirimenjako (dried small fish), and wakame (a type of seaweed).
You can see photos of my wife's natto termpura here:
Two versions, normal one and wrapped-in-nori version.

As for making mugicha, I found one site explaining how to make it from barley.
Sorry, Japanese only.
Roasting barley is very similar to roasting coffee beans. According to the site,
Put 300 g barley to the roaster.
In 10 min. or so, you will hear the first cracking sound. Keep roasting. The third photo from the top shows barley roasted for 15 min. Then you will hear the second cracking sound. The fourth photo shows barley roasted for 17 min. Stop roasting and transfer to a sieve to cool.

fred said...

It's surprising you know Tempeh...(笑)
It's so cheap here, just around 10~20yen(in conversion to yen) for a block. I don't have any idea for Japanese market there, but seems expensive according to many internet sources.

I'll try to find some natto for some natto tenpura too here!
o(・ω・ o)=3=3

Thanks for mugicha roasting guide!
I just want to ask this actually!(笑)
And; no problem with me, I'm quite familiar with Japanese writing anyway! :D

thank you!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: It's surprising that you can read Japanese! There are a lot of "foreigners" out there who can speak Japanese, but there are not many who can read and write it.

I first learned of tempeh from eGullet when someone asked a question about tempeh, in which he believed that tempeh was a product of Japan. And, yes, tempeh is expensive here in Japan!

fred said...

I've tried mugicha today!
Using pan-roasting, though. I don't have any coffee-roasting equipment...orz
But it was really good!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: Good job! Mugicha is really good hot or cold.

fred said...

I'm still don't know exactly about the taste.
It taste like an arabica coffee and a slightly nutty at my first roast. I decide to roast it again, but seems it was over-roasted...orz

When the second batch of roasting, I've used slow roasting method. But very lack of body, taste like a boiled barley. So I decide to combine it with the burned first batch...
Still looking for the better taste...

Hiroyuki said...

fred: Funny you mentioned the resemblance to coffe. Some say that mugicha with milk tastes like "milk coffee".

fred said...

lucky me! that means my first roasting was not wrong at all(笑)

I'll roast all the rest barley then!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: I forgot to include this URL:

fred said...

It's really funny!
hot milk+takuan = corn soup?!!
yokan+butter = sweet potato!
how it can be! I should try them by myself!!(笑)

Anonymous said...

Hiroyuki & all: Wow, tempura is such an interesting and delicious art form! :)

This series of posts on the topic of tempura reminded me of a dish from El Bulli which I read about in a book. The dish was 'Samphire Tempura with Saffron and Oyster Cream', by Ferran Adria. And it's a tempura made from glutinous rice flour!

The tempura recipe is:

• 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
• 1/3 cup cold water
• 4 cups olive oil
• 2 1/2 oz. (about 70g) samphire shoots, cut 1" (about 2.5cm) long

1.Place flour and water in a bowl; mix using hand blender; cover with plastic wrap; reserve in refrigerator.

2.Heat oil in deep fryer to 350°F (about 176.6°C).

3.Remove tempura batter from refrigerator; dip shoots into batter; fry one at a time until crispy and just brown; remove with a spider; drain on paper towels; serve.

The full recipe is from:

Hiroyuki said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the link, although I am unable to access it because I can't log in.

Tempura batter made from glutinous rice flour only sounds both interesting and a kind of overwhelming... The resultant tempura should be more like fritters with hard covering. I found one recipe that uses glutinous rice flour, eggs, and water for batter:
(Japanese only)

Anonymous said...

Hiroyuki: Thanks for the link. Yeah, you're right; it looks like it has too much batter and oil! Maybe that's why Ferran skipped the eggs. His looked very thin and almost brittle.