Breathtaking Vegetable Tempura Recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

No beer involved in the batter for this any season Vegetable Tempura recipe from Plenty, Vibrant Vegetable Recipes (Chronicle Books, U.S Edition, March 2011) by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Seasonal tempura

Here’s the perfect solution for all your vegetables. This tempura is breathtakingly delicious.

Serves 4

Dipping sauce

6 cardamom pods

Grated zest and juice of 4 limes (about 1/3 cup juice)

1 fresh green chile

2 ¾ cups cilantro (leaves and stalks)

1 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp sunflower oil

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp water

About 2 ¾ lbs (net weight) freshly prepared vegetables (see method), such as: Jerusalem artichoke, beet, broccoli, potato, sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, baby leek, parsnip, kohlrabi, salsify, turnip

½ cup cornstarch, plus extra to coat the vegetables

½ cup self-rising flour (to make self-rising flour, combine 1 cup flour, 1 ¼ tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt)

¾ cup seltzer or sparkling water

2 tsp grapeseed oil

¼ tsp to taste

3 cups sunflower oil for deep-frying

Plenty_Seasonal tempura (2)

To make the sauce. Break the cardamom pods using a mortar and pestle and transfer the seeds to a food-processor bowl. Discard the pods. Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz to get a smooth, runny sauce.

Nest prepare the vegetables. There aren’t any strict rules you must follow but try to keep them chunky and retain some of the natural shape of the vegetable where possible – for example, round vegetables but into thin wedges and long ones into batons or strips. Here are a few useful suggestions. For cauliflower and broccoli, divide into medium florets; for beets, peel and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices or wedges; for potatoes and sweet potatoes, leave the skin on and cut into ¼-inch-thich slices; for Jerusalem artichoke, carrot, parsnip, salsify, turnip and celeriac, peel and cut into 3/8-inch-thick sticks, not too perfect; for baby leeks just trim off the green ends.

Before you start frying the vegetables, prepare a large plate lined with paper towels. Scatter some cornstarch for coating the vegetables on another plate. Place the batter ingredients – flour, cornstarch, soda water, grapeseed oil and salt – in a bowl and whisk well to get a smooth, runny mix. Add some chile flakes for heat.

Pour the frying oil into a medium saucepan and place on high heat. Once very hot, turn the heat down to medium. When frying the vegetables, the oil should be hot enough so you get a good sizzle but not so hot that they burn.

Deep-fry four or five pieces of vegetable at a time. Take each piece and toss it in the cornstarch. Shake to remove any excess, then dip it in the batter. Lift and shake again, then carefully put into the oil. As they fry, turn the pieces over to color evenly. Soft vegetables like leek should take about 1 minute to cook, harder ones like beets 2 minutes or more. When frying, occasionally remove any burnt bits that float in the oil. As they cook, transfer the vegetables onto the paper towels and keep warm.

When all the vegetables are cooked, serve them at once, with the dipping sauce on the side.

(* Recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi published in the U.S by Chronicle Books-March 2011- Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin, reproduced by permission, all rights reserved)

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