New York City’s intimate Japanese oasis Tempura Matsui is testament to the fact that even the simplest of dishes can be elevated to new heights. Featuring seasonal tempura-focused omakase dinner menus, the restaurant consists of just a few counter seats and tables, providing diners with a firsthand look at the delicate complexity chef Kiyoshi Chikano puts into the namesake dish to achieve crisp perfection. It’s worth noting that Tempura Matsui just launched a $40 set-plate lunch. Here, chef Chikano explains how to cook a proper tempura dish at home.
Tempura has been loved by the Japanese people for centuries, and it is an important cuisine for us. And maybe because of this, many Americans may think that tempura is a special cuisine that only masters can make. But in fact, tempura can be enjoyed at home. Many Japanese people cook tempura at home.
You do need special skill sets to make the perfect light and crisp tempura, but you can make delicious homemade tempura in your own kitchen, too! My advice is to be extra careful with the temperature of all the ingredients and the oil.
Fall is a great season to find tempura-friendly ingredients. Prepare both the dipping sauce and the salt so you can enjoy tempura both ways.
Shrimp Tempura Recipe
For the batter:
1½ cups cold water
1½ cups fine flour
1 egg yolk
For the tempura:
12-15 prawns (vegetarian options: mushrooms, root vegetables, pumpkin)
For the dipping sauce:
1 cup bonito dashi (recipe below)
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons bonito flakes
For the batter:
- Chill all ingredients in the refrigerator. Make sure they’re all chilled around the same temperature.
- Whisk water with yolk.
- Add sifted flour to the water and yolk, and stir gently.
- Make sure the ingredients are chilled equally: This is the key for crispiness and smooth batter.
- Pat-dry the ingredients using a paper towel. Leave them to air-dry for about 30 minutes.
- Dip the ingredients into the batter. If the ingredients are still moist, coat them lightly with flour before dipping them into the batter.
- Heat the oil to 375°F to 425°F for seafood, and 335°F to 355°F for vegetables and fry the ingredients.
For the sauce:
- Put the dashi, soy sauce and mirin in a saucepan and mix gently. Bring to boil.
- Add bonito flakes and let cool.
- Remove the bonito flakes and serve.
For the salt:
- Roast the salt lightly with a pan and let it cool before serving.