by Alton Brown, Good Eats 3: The Later Years

It is interesting to note that like so many technologies perfected by the Japanese – transistor radios, trains, cell phones, peaches, coffee – tempura is actually a Western import.


5 ounces unbleached cake flour
5 ounces white rice flour
1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups cold seltzer water
1/2 cup vodka
5 to 6 ounces sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Kosher salt
1/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
8 stems flat-leaf parsley
1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce (recipe below)


Whisk the cake flour and rice flour together in a medium glass bowl and divide it in half. Set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer.

Once the temperature reaches 365 degrees F, whisk the egg, seltzer water and vodka, in a medium mixing bowl and divide it in half. Put half of the mixture in the refrigerator to reserve. Pour half of the liquid mixture into half of the dry mixture and whisk to combine, about 10 to 15 seconds. Some lumps may remain. Set the glass bowl in a larger bowl lined with ice.

Dip the sweet potatoes into the batter using tongs, drain for 2 to 3 seconds over the bowl, and then add to the hot oil. Adjust the heat to maintain between 375 and 400 degrees F. Fry 6 to 8 pieces, at a time, until puffy and very light golden, about 1 to 2 minutes Remove to a cooling rack lined with 3 layers of paper towels set over a half sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Repeat the same dipping and frying procedure with the green beans and parsley leaves. Put the fried vegetables on a serving platter and serve the as an appetizer while preparing the fish.

Whisk together the remaining halves of dry and liquid batter ingredients as above and repeat dipping and frying with the fish fillets. Sprinkle with salt, if desired, transfer the fish to a serving platter and serve immediately with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce.

Cook's Note: Tempura may be held in a 200 degree F oven for up to 30 minutes, though texture is compromised.


Yield: 6-8 servings

Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil


Add all of the ingredients to a lidded jar and shake well to combine. Serve as a dipping sauce for tempura. Yield: 1 cup

Recipes: Fish, Vegetables, Tempura, Kosher

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