I get a craving for Vegetable and Shrimp Tempura every once in a while. I try to stay away from making fried foods, not because they aren’t delicious, but because I hate the oil mess and frying smell and, yes, they’re not exactly light. As fried foods go, though, tempura is pretty OK in my book. Light, airy, thin, crispy batter on healthy vegetables and shrimp (vegetarians of course will omit the shrimp), dipped in a salty tempura sauce – not just OK – scrumptious!
I won’t lie, there is a bit of technique involved in this recipe, but once you get the hang of it after a couple of tries, it’s not daunting at all. In my experience, there are three important tips for success: all the vegetable and shrimp ingredients must be prepped and laid out ready to go; the tempura batter for dipping must remain cold throughout the process; and the oil must be at the right temperature to ensure crispiness and avoid absorbing the oil into the food.
You can use ready-made tempura batter available in any Asian supermarket or make your own. I’ve done both and they both work well. If you like your batter a little thicker, you can add a bit of extra flour. Experiment with the vegetables that you like and work best for you. I love peppers, asparagus, green beans and eggplant. My husband loves sweet potatoes and shrimp.
Tempura is best right out of the frying pan, so consider an informal gathering in your kitchen as you cook the batches, serving your guests or family one batch at a time. But don’t stress about the timing. It will hold up fine to serve as an appetizer, too, in the living room. For a dinner party, I keep it simple and just make tempura asparagus, for example. Or shrimp. A real treat!