I’m always looking for new and delicious veggie recipes for my kids to enjoy. It’s not hard getting my 13-year-old daughter to eat a variety of vegetables, but it’s a whole different story with my 9-year-old son.
A great recipe came across my files when I was putting together the new menus and recipe packets for The Chopping Block's Teen Boot Camp at the Merchandise Mart. The teens learn how to make vegetable tempura on their last day, and I decided this was a prefect recipe to test out on my own kids. Anything deep fried is delicious, right?
Tempura is a Japanese dish of battered and deep fried vegetables, fish or shellfish. The batter is light and delicate which makes for a thin, crispy and crunchy coating.
You can use any vegetable you like, but in this case I used what I had on hand, which was broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and green beans. Other veggies that would be delicious to tempura are kale leaves, peppers, zucchini and onions. The best part is that you don’t even need to cook the vegetables ahead of time. They cook right in the pot of oil while frying to crunchy perfection!
Yield: 4-6 servings as an appetizer
Active time: 25 minutes
Start to finish: 25 minutes
Oil for frying
For the batter:
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups ice cold club soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound fresh green beans, vine ends removed
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 green pepper, cut into strips
- Heat the oil in a heavy pot until it reads 375° on a deep-fry thermometer.
- Place the egg yolk in a medium-size bowl. Add in the flour and club soda in alternating turns to produce a batter that is a bit thinner than pancake batter. Stir in the salt. Keep the mixture very cold until ready to use. Tip: Be sure not to work the glutens and overmix the batter. Whisk the batter just until it comes together, so it creates a light and crispy batter when fried.
- Dip the assorted vegetables into the batter, and carefully drop them into the hot oil. Work in small batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the vegetables until they are crisp and light golden brown.
- Using a skimmer, remove the vegetables from the oil, and allow to drain on a rack set over a sheet tray.
- Sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with the Sesame Dipping Sauce (recipe below).
I recruited my daughter, Delilah, to be my sous chef for this task, so the two of us got to work and made the batter and cut up the veggies.
Making the batter was a really simple task, but there are a few important tips to remember:
- Make sure the club soda you use is as cold as possible. Tip: You can use water in place of the club soda, but the soda gives the batter more crispiness.
- Keep the batter cold until ready to use. This prevents the batter from absorbing too much oil.
- Do not overmix the batter. The last thing you want is to develop the gluten. To keep the batter light and delicate, mix it just until it comes together.
Once we made the batter, and heated our oil, Delilah dipped the veggies into the batter and carefully lowered them into the hot oil. She made sure not to overcrowd the pan, so the veggies wouldn’t stick together.
Once the veggies were a light golden brown, we used a skimmer to transfer the veggies to a rack set over a sheet tray.
We served the tempura on a platter with a sesame-soy sauce for dipping.
Sesame Dipping Sauce
Yield: 1/2 cup
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
1 scallion, thinly sliced on the bias
1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oeleck
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
- Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
My kids loved the veggies and ate them up! The best part was that for the first time in my son’s life he willingly ate a green bean! He said, “This is a great way to eat yucky veggies.” Mission accomplished!
If you have a taste for some delicious Japanese food, join us for Backyard Benihana on our outdoor patio, or Sushi Workshop classes this summer. Our July class calendars were just released today, so take a look at all of our offerings.