Recently I went to a Japanese restaurant whose specialty is soba noodles and soup. I asked if they had anything vegetarian and they looked at me almost kindly, as if to say, how sad that you can't eat our food. She said she'd check with the chef - I really really wanted to try the soba. But the chef said that all the broths were fish based, so that was out. And then he said he could make me some vegetarian tempura.
The fabulous plate of tempura arrived, but no fabulous dipping sauce. I asked for it, only to be told that all tempura dipping sauce is made with fish sauce in restaurants! I looked down to see that she had provided a dipping "salt". There were two kinds - green tea salt and sea salt. The green tea salt was superb!! I asked the chef and he said he just whizzes green tea leaves and salt together! Now, why didn't I think of making flavored salt?!
A week later, I had a craving for the tempura with the salt. And so this story ends here! I never realized how easy it is to make tempura - and I'm going to make it many times over - and have it with fabulous flavored salts. Mmm. You have to try this.
Tempura with Flavored Dipping Salt
For the Batter:
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1 cup very cold Water
Beat the egg. Add the water and mix. Now sift the flour into the egg mixture and combine lightly. Do not over mix. There'll be a few lumps but that's okay.
Good vegetables to use for tempura are carrot sticks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach. I tried okra too (hmm... not so good). You could experiment with most vegetables. And of course, shrimp tempura is a traditional favorite with the Japanese. Remember that vegetables take longer to cook than seafood when you deep fry.
Dip the vegetables in the batter and coat it very lightly. Now carefully deep fry in hot oil. This was the first time that I was deep frying anything! But the tempura was well worth it.
It was delicious! I served it with green tea salt and paprika salt. And my orange "squid" chopsticks!