Sunday, September 2, 2018

Rosie Makes Shrimp Tempura. Kinda.

It's no secret that I love shrimp.
And my favorite method of preparation has got to be fried shrimp.
Somehow, frying really accentuates that shrimp flavor.
Plus, it's fried.  So it's a win-win any way you look at it.

What is tempura?  Well, I'll tell you.  Tempura is a Japanese dish consisting of lightly battered and fried seafood and/or vegetables.  Although it has a Japanese name and has been eaten in Japan for centuries, it is believed that tempura, or more specifically, the concept of deep frying food in oil, was introduced to Japan by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century.

Lightly battered is the key, here. For starters, there is no milk in this batter.  In traditional tempura, the liquid of choice would be ice-cold water, but Rosie is using chilled club soda and beer.  Bubbles in the club soda, from carbonation, are suspended in the batter, resulting in extra-light and crisp results. The beer component has a three-fold effect.  First, those bubbles.  Beer is saturated with carbon dioxide and when a beer batter hits hot oil, the bubbles from the CO₂ froth up and expand the batter mix, giving you a lacy, crisp texture.  Secondly, there are foaming agents in beer.  Beer forms a head because of naturally occurring proteins in the beer, as opposed to bubbles bursting immediately like in champagne.  These foaming agents surround the bubbles. acting as thermal insulators, and slow the rate at which they burst, so most of the heat goes into the batter rather than the delicate food.  This way, you get a delicate brown crust while the interior gently simmers.  Thirdly, the alcohol contributes to the mix.  Alcohol evaporates faster than water, so a beer batter doesn't have to cook as long as a water-based batter.  The faster the batter cooks, the lower the risk of overcooking the food.

 As in most batters, do not overmix.  Overmixing creates a dense, tough batter.  The most important caveat in frying is DO NOT OVERCROWD the pan.  Fry in small batches so as not to lower the temperature of the oil.  This way, your food cooks quicker.  Lowering the temp will take longer to cook and the longer food sits in oil, the more it absorbs, giving you greasy and soggy results.


Rosie's Tempura Batter
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 cup beer
1/2 cup club soda
Lightly mix all ingredients.
Dredge shrimp through batter and knock off any excess.
Drop into 375° peanut oil and fry one minute.

Serve with any number of dipping sauces.
Mine was a basic soy sauce dip consisting of soy sauce, a splash of mirin, some rice vinegar, a little sugar, minced fresh ginger and garlic, and sliced scallions.  You could add some honey, red pepper flakes, lime juice, and/or toasted peanuts or sesame seeds.  Even a little diced cucumber would work.  Experiment!


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