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This Super Crispy Shrimp + Vegetable Tempura Night is a great way to create a delicious spread whether you’re serving two for a date night or a crowd for a party!
Fun to make, and best-served piping hot, tempura is the perfect interactive date night or party food to serve when you’re looking to get your guests involved and serve up some entertainment with your meal!
What is tempura?
Tempura is Japanese dish of various foods breaded in a light batter and fried until super crispy. While dining out, I love the thrill of picking tempura pieces and guessing what each bite will reveal. But, sometimes it’s nice to just stay in and cook at home, too!
So to celebrate my upcoming birthday, I invited everyone over to my house to dip it up ourselves with an at-home tempura night!
How to Make Super Crispy Tempura for Tempura Night
Super crispy tempura really is easy to achieve, whether you’re making tempura for yourself or for a crowd, with these tips.
Cornstarch-based tempura batter
- Gluten-free Argo® Corn Starch is not only amazing for thickening gravies and sauces, it makes baked goods light and fluffy and makes coatings super crispy! And it’s the secret to this tempura batter for a crowd. Without corn starch that allows it to sit on the counter for hours and and still fry up super crispy it would have to be used right away like typical flour-based batter.
- Keep the batter cold – start with ice-cold beer, sparkling water, club soda or flat water, then keep it cold by placing the bowl of batter in a larger bowl filled with ice water.
- And the oil hot – if it’s not hot enough, the batter will absorb the oil before it cooks, resulting in greasy tempura. Use a use a deep pan with a flat bottom and at least 2 inches of oil for even heat. Then, check the temperature with a thermometer before frying. Vegetables should be deep-fried at 325 degrees Fahrenheit while seafood should be at 350 degrees. No thermometer? Sprinkle a few drops of batter in the oil to test. If they bubble and crisp, it’s ready. Then, maintain the heat by not crowding the pan with too much tempura.
- After carefully lowering tempura in oil, drizzle a bit of the batter over top to place lots of little ribbons of batter on the surface for even crispier tempura. Bonus! Scoop out and save any crispy pieces left in the oil – these crisps are tempura scraps or ‘flakes’ and are actually Tenkasu “heavenly waste” and perfect for adding crunch to noodle dishes, soups, rolls, etc.
- Drain on wire rack or newspaper instead of paper towels to prevent steam and soggy tempura.
Low Moisture Fillings
For a crisp instead of soggy batter that completely adheres, ensure all meats and vegetables you choose are completely dry before battering. If necessary, dredge in corn starch before dipping in batter. Also, reduce moisture by choosing naturally low moisture vegetables, like root vegetables, which include potatoes, carrots and turnips.
Tempura Filling ideas
- Meat & Seafood: Prawns, shrimp, scallops, calamari, cod, thinly sliced chicken, beef, pork
- Vegetables: sliced carrots, zucchini, squash blossoms, scallions, thinly sliced sweet potatoes and yams, mushrooms, onion rings, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower florets, whole green beans, turnips, whole shishito peppers, sweet bell peppers slices, or jalapeno rounds, winter squash, like acorn or delicata squash, and pumpkin
Spillage protection for tempura night
Eliminate the mess of frying in the kitchen by taking the tempura night outside! Cover a large patio table or bench with newspaper and bring a camp stove or single burner induction plate outside. Or cover the kitchen counter with a layer of newspaper and stay in.
And, finally, the easiest way to prevent soggy tempura is to not allow it to sit around for too long. All the more reason to gather round in the kitchen, pop open a bottle of sake and get dipping!
What else to Serve at Tempura Night
Make your tempura night as simple or complex as you choose as long as you have a few small plates and some chopsticks to encourage people to dive in and get creative!
- good flaky sea salt and lemon wedges or, make a dipping sauce from salted lemon juice
- tempura dipping sauce made from steamed mirin, soy, dashi and bonito flakes (or sub in a little Vietnamese fish sauce instead)
- boiled soba noodles and shredded carrots or daikon radish (the traditional way!)
- Want to make it even more substantial? Serve tempura with steamed rice and nori sheets, as well as an array of other fillings for DIY tempura filled sushi rolls. Or, include broth and noodles for homemade tempura udon
- Sake and Japanese beer
- 1 1/2 cup Argo® Corn Starch
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 large eggs slightly beaten
- 2 cups light beer or water or club soda or sparkling water I:CE COLD
- 1 11/2 pounds large raw prawns peeled and deveined
- 4 cups cut-up vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, onions and/or mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
- light canola oil Enough for deep frying
- Wash and dry then prep all ingredients. scoring the back side of the prawns so they lay flat.
- Combine Argo® Corn Starch, flour, baking powder, garlic, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Add liquid and eggs; stir until just combined. Place bowl into larger bowl filled with ice and water to keep cold.
- In a deep shallow pan heat 3 to 4 inches of oil over medium heat to 325˚F.
- Add sesame oil to hot oil to add flavor (optional).
- Dip vegetables into batter, Let drip for a few seconds before carefully lowering into hot oil.
- Fry a few vegetables at a time, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly golden and crisp.
- Drain on wire rack over newspaper lined sheet or directly on newspaper.
- Increase heat to 350˚F and repeat with the prawns.
- Serve immediately.
This post created in partnership with Argo Corn Starch – the very best for gluten-free cooking, fluffy, delicious baked goods, silky smooth sauces and gravies, and super crispy coatings. Thank you for supporting the brands that support me!