Wish Upon A Dish: Basil Tumpura Batter & Vinegar Aioli

July 10, 2010

Basil Tumpura Batter & Vinegar Aioli

I always wanted to try tempura.
Last night for dinner I started out doing tomatoes, mozzarella and peppers, then I thought I have scallops and chicken so I threw them into the batter.

"This was FUN".

I liked the idea of light, crunchy vegetables and as we know, everything else tastes good fried. I also liked the idea of seltzer or beer (fizzy) and rice flour as the protagonist. This was on my "short list" of recipes I wanted to make this year. This tempura batter is not the goopy egg, flour and water mixture, it has no egg.

It reminds me of a fish & chip batter, not quite as heavy but light and airy nevertheless. It's extra crispy and with the addition of blanched basil, flavorful. Season well with sea salt at the end and dip in an aioli with 2 vinegars. You have a great first course or a platter for noshing and with seafood, the Japanese version of Fritto Misto. I have to say, the slices of tomatoes were exceptionally tasty, crispy and delicious (try salting after slicing to remove excess moisture as you would with zucchini and eggplant). The uses are endless. The coating stays crunchy even after 2 hours.

Tempura Batter:
Yield: 2 cups

* 1 cup seltzer or club soda, freezing cold
* 1/2 cup AP flour
* 1 cup rice flour
* 1 cup basil leaves, blanched in salted water, squeezed dry and chopped fine

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and place on top of ice. Must be kept ice cold at all times. The batter will have a slight grainy texture as the rice flour does not soak up moisture like AP flour does. That is why the batter remands crunchy even after sitting for hours.
2. With canola oil at 375 degrees F, dip food into batter and let excess drip off and gently lower tomatoes into hot oil. Fry, in batches of 3-4 pieces, until GB&D (golden brown & delicious), about 2-3 minutes. It will not get dark brown like breaded frying. Drain on paper towels, season with sea salt, then move to cooling rack and keep warm in oven while you finish the rest.
3. Tomatoes are wonderful with this batter. I also did chicken, scallops, yellow pepper strips and slices of mozzarella. Onion rings would be the best. Do not expect it to completely coat the food. The whole idea is to add a light crunch.

Vinegar Aioli:
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 3/4 cups canola oil
* 1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup
* 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
* 2 teaspoons Agave nectar or honey
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1. In blender, mix first 4 ingredients. With blender on, drizzle oil in until it gets thick then you can pour in faster. Remove to bowl. Add in garlic.
2. Add the vinegars and agave nectar in next, cover and refrigerate till ready to use. Will last for a month in the refrigerator.

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