2 febbraio 2011

Tempura - Japan

la ricetta in italiano qui

Welcome to Japan, Land of the Rising Sun (as Japan's name characters really means), fourth stop of Joan's Final Culinary Tour.
What shall I say about Japan? ... just a little or pretty nothing, as I do not know much about this country:

- reminescences of what studied in school (mostly bad memories, as conflicts, battles and atrocities of World War II, culminating with the explosion of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki),
- the cult of martial arts (well, when I was a teenager I practiced judo for a few years and I liked it, should find the photos somewhere ... but I was the only female in the school and fighting with the boys was really hard ... perhaps it will be then that I made my bones and got strong enough to manage with my only-men-family now?),
- the tales about samurai warriors,
- ikebana, the art of flower arranging,
- bonsai, which I believe it's something cruel against mother nature,
- fictional stories about geisha, in fact I liked a lot the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha", and I have promised myself to read the book too,
- sushi & sashimi, but I don't like either meat than raw fish.

Trivial and silly, isn't it? ... but I have no feeling at all with this country and its culture, I do not have any spiritual communication with the well-known patience, lightness, tranquility, calm in each where and what, any accordance to the minimal sense in furnishing and decor ... or, on the other side, the super technological way of living in modern time.
Japan is still not in my program things-to-see-sometime, but maybe joining this virtual tour with Joan, I will have the chance to make up my mind and appreciate the magical spirit of the Rising Sun!
So I chose one of the most traditional Japanese food but with a familiar touch (we love fries and one of our most favorite family recipe is Italian Fries, I will post about it one day) and origin, not so involving in buying funny ingredients I might never use then. Besides, I don't have any Japanese kitchen/table ware, unless a wok, some bamboo spoons and sticks ... and for tempura are enough!

tempura  di verdure come un idiogramma japan
a vegetable tempura in Japanese ideogram

Tempura is a traditional and very popular dish of Japanese cuisine, you can find it in kiosks as street food as well as in 5 stars luxury restaurants. It's the way to cook fish and vegetables wrapped in a batter and then fried in hot oil.
It has not originated from Japan though, but have been imported into the country by the first Portuguese Christian missionaries who arrived there in 1500. For Christian people it was an ancient custom to observe a kind of culinary fast at the beginning of each new season, called "Quattro Tempora" in latin, the Ember Days. They were three days of prayer and frugal meals, the meat was strictly forbidden. So monks used to cook for themselves just a little fried fish and vegetables to please their hunger. The Japanese quickly learned the technique and made theirs, improved the recipe giving more lightness and crispness, and soon became great masters.

tempura  di verdure
pumpkin, zucchini, carrot, onion, cauliflower, broccoli

To have an excellent fry, crispy and light, just a little tips to follow:
- the batter should be very cold, so better add some ice cubes to it, and also keep the bowl of the batter over a larger bowl with water and ice 8a sort of cold water bath),
- better use sparkling water, always cold, it's the contrast of temperatures (hot oil and cold food) to support the immediate expansion and swelling of the batter, making it immediately crisp,
- fry in abundant oil at 170/180° C, dipping a few pieces at a time (otherwise the oil temperature will lower), and they should splash onto the bottom of the pan but immediately return to the surface (this is also an indication that the oil is at the right temperature),
- do not mix too much the flour, lumps are preferred, as our friend/enemy Mr. Gluten would wake up and not cooperate, making the batter chewy, or use rice flour that is gluten-free,
- batter texture should be like a béchamel sauce,
- better use seed oil, soy or sesame are perfect to release an Oriental flavor,
- do not make pieces too large to be fried, cut vegetables julienne, because the fry should be short, can be sligthly floured before passing into the batter.
Almost all types of vegetables can be fried, as well as fish and shellfish, the most common are shrimps, prawns, squid, crabs, eels.

tempura di gamberoni al cacao amaro
king size prawns in chocolate tempura

An inusual tempura for prawns and shrimps by Matia Barciulli (young Tuscan chef):

make a batter of 3/4 rice flour and 1/4 unsugared cocoa powder
and serve on a pumpking creamy soup

tempura di gamberoni al cacao amaro


a little rest as Joan is travelling,
see you in 10 days in Thailand!

Japan Round up

9 commenti:

franci e vale ha detto...

Che meraviglia questa tempura! mi affascina il giappone anche con il cibo!...sempre belle le tue ricette! ciao, franci

Vicky ha detto...

Io ho letto il libro e non ho visto il film "Memorie di una Geisha", e mi è piaciuto parecchio, nonostante la mole l'ho letto abbastanza in fretta, durante una vacanza al mare ormai parecchi anni fa.
La tempura di Matia mi aveva molto incuriosita ma ancora non l'avevo provata, tu sei sempre bravissima!

FOODalogue ha detto...

Perfect! No one else did tempura and I'm sure many people will like it. I must admit (before reading) I thought you burned the shrimp. ha, ha. Very interesting covering.

Sally - My Custard Pie ha detto...

I know exactly where you are coming from in your introduction - very honest! I agree about bonsai too. The tempura looks great.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) ha detto...

You have risen to the challenge and made 2 delicious dishes here. It was fun to meet up with you again on the culinary tour, even if it is just virtually.

torwen ha detto...

Lovely tempura! Can I join in? :)
I'm just wondering what veggies would go with the chocolate batter???
PS. Don't forget to post about the Italian fries!

Michelle @ On and Off My Plate ha detto...

Looks so good....light and crispy....and ur right, the variations are endless but I would never have thought of chocolate. I want a taste now!

vincent ha detto...

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Cindystar ha detto...

Franci & Vale, grazie.

Vicky, allora me lo presterai tu, lo leggerò al mare anch'io, vista la mole! Matia ne sa una più del diavolo, non vedo l'ora che ritorni a metà marzo, dai vieni anche tuuu!

Joan, thanks, but it really happens sometimes I burn what I am cooking!

Sally, thanks for your words, especially about bonsai, they always think I am crazy when I say that!

Bellini Vialli, thanks a lot, it's real fun to travel together with such nice companions!

Torwen, I suppose any kind of sweet vegs, or else bread slices. I will post about Italian fries in Spring/early Summer, when I am sure I will find the freshest vegetables. Stay tuned!

Michelle, oil is frying, have a seat and I'll serve you a cocoa prawn right now!

Have a nice week!

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