Transforming a beautiful plate of vegetables into a beautiful-in-a-different-way plate of deep fried vegetables has become one of our favorite Christmas Eve traditions. I’m not gonna lie: tempura is not super easy to make because it’s pretty labor intensive. which is why it is a once-a-year kind of meal. But, it’s so delicious. The recipe comes originally from Alton Brown, and we have modified it over the past couple of years to reflect our family’s tastes. Although we do have chicken, the vegetables are by far everyone’s favorites.
- the vegetables and protein you’re going to fry–we use 2 small sweet potatoes, sliced; 1 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced; 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets; green beans (1/2 pound maybe?); 1/2 avocado, sliced; 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup (heaping) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (heaping) white rice flour
- 1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil (for each pan that you use to fry; I used two this time, and it worked well)
- 1 1/2 cups cold seltzer water (or club soda or sparkling water; do not sub tonic water)
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 1 large egg, beaten
- (ice to line a bowl that you’ll set the batter in)
- salt to taste
- Prepare your vegetables and chicken–slice, trim, chop, peel; do what you need to do.
- Whisk together the flour and rice flour in a medium glass bowl. Divide in half and then set the flour mixture aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer (or until bubbles form around the handle of a wooden spoon; every year I have to Google how to tell if oil is hot enough).
- When the oil is getting close to ready, whisk the seltzer water, vodka, and egg together and divide the mixture in half. Put half the wet mixture in the refrigerator to reserve.
- Pour half the wet mixture into half of the flour mixture and which to combine. (I have generally found we need to add a little more flour to at least half of the batter, sometimes to both halves). It will make a thin (but not watery) batter.
- Set the bowl of batter into a larger bowl lined with ice.
- Dip the vegetables in the batter and let drain for a few seconds over the bowl, then drop them carefully into the hot oil. Fry 6-8 pieces at a time until puffy and very light golden, about 1-2 minutes (the chicken takes a little longer).
- Remove to a cooling rack lined with 3 layers of paper towels, and sprinkle with salt as desired.
- When you run low on batter, whisk up the other half of the liquid and the flours.
- Tempura may be held in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. Alton Brown said the texture would be compromised, but I thought it was just fine. :)