Korean Veggie Tempura. It’s great for after a night of drinking. Or not drinking, really, everyone should have these in their lives every once in a while. And today was our every once in a while. I just made these today. Yum!
And are these different from Japanese Veggie Tempura? Yes, and not just because the person making it is Korean or Japanese. Korean Veggie Tempura is always fried in “bunches” of veggies, as opposed to Japanese Veggie Tempura, which is usually fried in individual veggie pieces. And with Japanese Tempura, you’ll notice, it’s usually served fried in panko breadcrumbs. We’re using a batter, and not breadcrumbs, in this recipe. We Koreans love our batter! And this particular recipe is from my mother’s kitchen, therefore my kitchen now.
If you’re new to, or just plain scared of deep frying, just be sure to keep water away from your frying oil. Most frying “accidents” happen because of wayward water in the form of droplets or splashed making their way into frying oil. Not pretty.
But fear not deep frying, just use extra precaution!
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INGREDIENTS FOR BATTER:
2 cups flour
1½ cups cold water
3 tablespoons potato starch (or corn starch if that’s what’s handy)
Salt / pepper
2 carrots (peeled, sliced in French fry strips)
2 potatoes (peeled, sliced in French fry strips)
1 large onion (sliced)
½ pound string beans (ends cut)
Vegetable oil for frying
1. Prepare all your vegetables and set aside.
2. If you are using a deep fryer, you can pre-heat now.
~ My mother never believed in too many “machines” in our kitchen, so she always used an old fashioned frying pan for frying. A big ass one.
3. If you also choose to use a frying pan, be sure to heat the pan over a medium-high first before adding your frying oil. Fill your pan two-thirds full of oil, leaving yourself some room in the pan so there’s no overflow of hot oil later while you’re mid-fry. Leave your oil to heat over the medium-high flame.
~ It’s important not to mess with your heat source during frying aka leave your flame medium-high the entire frying time. Changing temperatures will result in creepy fried foods neither crispy nor chewy just creepy.
4. While your oil is heating, make your batter. Toss your flour, cold water, eggs and starch, a dash of salt and pepper, and get your whisk on!
~ I’ve mentioned this in my Korean Pajeon / Pancake Recipe, but in case you’re wondering, the starch will give the fried batter texture and chewiness (as opposed to pancake batter texture).
5. When your oil is hot (you can test by dropping a little batter into the pan…the drop should fall to the bottom of the pan and then rise right away on its way to death by frying) add your veggies to the batter.
6. Using a large serving spoon as support, pile on to the spoon a couple of pieces of each veggie. Just imagine what your perfect bite would be, and be sure to have the proportion of the potato and onion, carrot and string beans in each piece of tempura you fry.
~ If you’re not comfortable with using a pair of chopsticks to grab your veggies like I did, feel free to use what works for you. You’ll need to be comfortable deep frying with whichever tool you use, so you make less mess and more edible food.
7. Add your spoonful of batter and veggies straight into the hot oil. It should begin frying just like this:
8. Don’t rush. Rushing results in splatters of oil and batter and a miserable you. Take your time, just keep track of your tempura pieces so you know which have been frying longer than others.
~ The coloring of the tempura pieces as they fry will be the best indicator of which have been frying longer than others.
9. When your tempura pieces are golden brown remove each piece one by one gently shaking as much oil off them as possible before throwing them in a paper towel-lined colander for further draining.
~ If you cut one of the tempura pieces down the middle you will see this cross section (crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and perfectly fried veggies):
~ Be sure to then remove all the little itty-bitty fried droplets of batter at this point, so they don’t burn during the second round of frying.
10. Serve up your Korean Veggie Tempura with your favorite dipping sauce. Of course, if you’d like, you can prepare in advance the sauce you see here in the photo.