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Tempura batter and technique

 
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Jim Cooley



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 316
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:10 pm    Post subject: Tempura batter and technique Reply with quote

Okay, I'll confess -- I eat frozen food sometimes. Safeway has this Orange-Peel Chicken I just love and I tried recreating the recipe last night with limited success.

It's basically just tempura chicken pieces smothered in an orange-peel sauce, with a bit of chili and green onion. Sauce came out fine, but the chicken didn't.

So instead of looking up the recipe, I thought I'd hit you guys up for a tempura batter recipe and technique. Lazy, I know, but the discussion is fun.

I threw together
2/3 cup AP flour
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (or so)
1 tsp baking powder.

I dusted the bite-sized pieces of raw chicken breast in flour, then quickly dragged them through the batter and put in a frypan 1 inch deep with hot oil. They fried up fine. But the batter was lousy. Not fluffy, and not enough of it.

I learned that you dust and batter in one step, or the batter doesn't adhere. Each batch is done separately.

I learned (well, I knew it all along) that to properly fry one needs HOT oil, and you don't overcrowd the pan or the oil temp drops too much. BTW, this means that the chicken and batter were at room temp, too.

Come to think of it, I have trouble with fritters (corn, apple), too.

Any suggestions? Is there a fundamental mistake I'm making somewhere in the process?

Jim
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1008
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

not sure one could count the number of tempura batter recipes . . .

cornstarch is often used
rice flour is another twist
a trick often mentioned is ice cold water - milk is a new one on me
or ice cold beer....
tonic water is another fizzy I've read
some folk only use the egg yolk - others use frothed egg white to lighten

I guess ya' gotta play around until you find one that you like.

the dredge in flour / shake is spot on - if the item has a wet surface, the batter just slides off.

thickness of the cooked batter I find is usually a function of the batter viscosity - which can be over and can be under 'done' - (don't ask....)

I do a beer battered butterfly shrimp dish - it's a family fav. the original recipe dates to the mid-70's from The Frugal Gourmet tv show.

curiously, that and multiple similar recipes call for using flat beer - well, I like it better with freshly opened beer - I think the carbonation adds to the fluff.

I like the whipped egg white approach especially for fish dishes.
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Jim Cooley



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 316
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahh! I'm wondering if it's the milk? I always use whole milk, and maybe the fat coats the flour particles or something?

I'll try beer or water next time.

I'm a big fan of egg whites, too. My waffles come out especially good, and I think that's the reason.

I bet it's the milk -- the fat in the milk. That would explain why my fritters don't turn out so good, either. I use beaten egg whites in them, too.

Thanks.
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