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.