Monday Birthday Present DeLong-Is-Stupid Smackdown Watch: Let the Intellectual Battle of Nations Commence in Comments!!
Noted for June 24, 2013

Next Week We Eat Broccoli Tempura for Dinner...

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Justice Ginsburg, a year ago:

Consider the chain of inferences the Court would have to accept to conclude that a vegetable-purchase mandate was likely to have a substantial effect on the health-care costs borne by lithe Americans. The Court would have to believe that individuals forced to buy vegetables would then eat them (instead of throwing or giving them away), would prepare the vegetables in a healthy way (steamed or raw, not deep-fried), would cut back on unhealthy foods, and would not allow other factors (such as lack of exercise or little sleep) to trump the improved diet...

Vegetable Tempura:

For the batter:

  • 1 egg
  • A jug of ice water
  • 3 Tbs. cake flour or all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
  • 1 Tbs. corn or potato starch
  • Oil for frying (My mother prefers rapeseed oil (natane abura 菜種油). You can also use sunflower, corn or peanut oil.)

Spread out the cut vegetables into a single layer on kitchen or paper towels, and leave to dry out on the surface for at least half an hour. The uncut baby vegetables and so on should not need to be dried, but should be totally dry on the surface.

Just before you are ready to start frying, mix up the batter. If your egg is a ‘small’ size, use 250 ml of ice water (or 5 times the amount of egg). If you have a ‘large’ egg you’ll need a tad more water. Mix the egg and water together, then add the flours, mixing rapidly with chopsticks or a fork. Do not try to get rid of all lumps, and floating ice cubes are fine - they’ll help to keep the batter cool.

Pour the oil into a suitable container, no more than 1/3th of the way full for safety. A tip here: Use a heavy pot that retains heat well. A cast iron enamelled pot such as Le Creuset is ideal. In Japan, most people deep fry in a wok - a proper wok made of iron is good because it retains heat well. Don’t use a cheap thin pan. For very small amounts you can also use a frying or sauté pan with fairly high sides. (Neither of us owns a dedicated deep fat fryer nor do we want to make the space for one in our kitchens.)

Heat up the oil. You can use a thermometer if you like, in which case you should heat up the oil to about 175°C or 350°F. Otherwise you can see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a bit of batter in the oil. If the batter blobs drop down and them come shooting up to the surface immediately, the oil is hot enough.

Make ready a large plate or tray lined with newspapers covered with kitchen towels, or a draining rack.

Larger pieces or whole vegetables should be dipped in the batter individually; smaller pieces like the matchstick carrots or the green beans are usually fried in little bundles, dipped in the batter and then into the oil with chopsticks. Start with the more delicate vegetables first, such as the shiso leaves, which only take a few seconds. Proceed to the harder vegetables, ending up with things like the sweet potato slices. Don’t overcrowd the oil pot - be patient, and only do 3 to 4 pieces at at time!

The amount of time each thing should be cooked depends on the vegetable. As mentioned, very delicate thin things only need a few seconds, while hard vegetables need a few minutes. You’ll learn how long things need to be fried by experience, but if you’re not sure just take a piece and cut or bite into it.

Drain each piece on the prepared draining plate or try. Don’t stack the pieces on top of each other, or the pieces underneath will just soak up the oil from above!

Serve tempura when it’s piping hot, for maximum crispiness.