And now I am going to prove every myth about deep-frying wrong. It is not an unhealthy way of cooking. It does not equate to more calories. It is not "oily" or "greasy" and it is almost a fool-proof way of preparing delicate foods such as shrimp.
Properly prepared tempura is NEVER greasy. The secret to great tempura is both the oil and the temperature. The best oil to deep-fry with is peanut oil. It is tasteless and takes very high heat. Safflower oil would be a second choice and it is less expensive. Next comes the temperature. For tempura I recommend 355 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. At this temperature the batter will quickly crust and no excess oil will seep into the food. The food inside of the batter, in this case shrimp, actually steams itself from the heat of the oil and thus you have perfectly cooked shrimp with a non-oily fluffy surrounding.
This particular tempura dish was created to incorporate the exotic tastes of Thailand. The tempura batter created is unlike any other. It has a delicate crunchy crust, a magnificent rich golden color and the dough surrounding the prawns is nothing short of angelic. It is also incredibly easy to prepare and very fast!
Remember, once the tempura has crusted it cooks from the inside out so even though they may feel warm to the touch, the prawns will still be hot inside so take that initial bite with caution!
Ingredients for Thai Tempura Prawns (serves 4):
- 1 pound prawns, shelled but tail still intact
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
- 1 Tbs. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2/3 cup cold water
- Peanut oil for frying
- Rinse your prawns under cold water and pat dry.
- Set the prawns aside. In a medium bowl whisk together all the ingredients, except prawns and oil, until smooth (congratulations, you just made tempura!). Set the bowl aside.
- In a wok or chef's pan (a high sided saute pan will work as well) add about 2 inches of oil. Over medium heat bring the oil to 355 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.
- Hold the prawns by the tail, dip it in the tempura batter until it is covered. Gently place in the oil and deep-fry until golden. Depending on the side of the wok or pan, only do about 4 to 6 at a time.
- Remove from the oil with tongs and let drain on paper towels.
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