Tempura batter is the lacy negligee on a blonde bombshell. It is ideal for quickee deep frying vegetables and seafood.
I prefer to dredge chicken in flour and shallow fry rather than batter and deep fry. For seafood and veggies, I prefer a beer batter or a tempura batter (they are very similar). Batters coat more evenly and make a thicker coating, but because they are wet, it takes longer for the oil to drive off all the moisture. But the steam makes bubbles in the batter lighter and flakier. Beer in the batter makes it froth in the oil creating a lighter lacier coating.
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of SeriousEats.com preaches substituting some of the beer with vodka because it evaporates faster during frying and I am a Kenji acolyte. The vodka also inhibits gluten formation and that keeps the batter more liquid longer while you are working with it. All the alcohol in the beer and vodka are driven off during the frying, but if you must you can substitute club soda or seltzer water. Just don't use anything with sugar in it. The whole process is designed to prevent gluten formation in order to keep the batter light and airy. The vodka helps with this. Before you start, read my article on frying here.
Batter Fried Vegetables And Seafood
Makes. About 6 cups vegetables or seafood. Try veggies such as zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, pickles, Brussels sprouts, peppers, onion rings, eggplant, okra, and green tomatoes sliced about ¼” thick. Try seafood such as light flaky fish such as shrimp, squid, crab, lobster, perch, cod or any other white fish.
Takes. 15 minutes to make the batter and 10 minutes to fry.
6 cups vegetables or 3 to 4 pounds of seafood depending on how small the pieces are
Enough vegetable oil to fill the pot or pan 1” deep
Coarse salt for serving
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon onion powder
12 ounces beer or club soda
4 ounces 86 proof vodka
2 large eggs
About the flour. Cake flour is lower in protein and forms less gluten that all-purpose flour. It works best. Too much gluten can make a heavier bready coating. If you don’t have cake flour, you can use all purpose flour. Nobody will die.
Optional. Add some seasoning if you wish. Try 1 teaspoon of hot pepper powder and/or sage.
1) Chill out. Chill the beer. Cold helps prevent gluten formation.
2) Fire up. Preheat the oil to 375°F.
3) Batter up. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the eggs and stir. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir but don’t mix aggressively so you don’t form gluten. Clumps of dry flour should be floating around. It should be a b it thinner than pancake flour. When you dunk something in it, the batter should coat it thoroughly. A thin spot or two is ok, but not so thin that it sheets off. If you need to thicken. it, add more flour. To thin it add beer, water, or club soda.
4) Dunk. If you are frying peppers, poke some holes in them so they don't explode. Drop the veggies into the batter and stir until coated. With tongs pull the veggies out let some of the excess batter drip off, and slip them into the oil making sure they do not splatter. Try to cook pieces of similar thickness together. Do not crowd the pot. Flip often and fry for only 1 to 2 minutes until pale golden. Try to keep the oil above 325°F. If you are doing chicken, take the white meat up to 160 to 165°F and the dark meat to 170 to 175°F. Don't worry about the temp of other foods. they will be safe when the batter is golden. Lift them out and spill them onto the grate or paper towels to drain and let them drip for a minute or two. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve. Scoop out bits of fried batter left in the oil before the next batch goes in.
5) Serve. These crunchy bits are called tenkasu and can be used in sandwich wraps, as toppings for noodle dishes, as garnish for soups...
"People in Japan treat food with great respect. A lot of people say they put love in their food, but Japanese really do."Meathead