Tempura batter is often made from rice flour, although these days it's usually made from wheat. It makes a versatile coating that's good for frying seafood, small pieces of chicken, and many kinds of vegetables. I've specified rice flour for this, but any low-protein, neutral-taste wheat-free flour will work; I've made this with millet, corn, and wild rice flour.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
- 2 egg whites
- approx. 2 c rice flour, divided, plus additional for dredging
- approx. 1 c seltzer water
- salt and pepper
- In a bowl, mix together egg whites and one cup of flour. Slowly add flour until the egg is entirely absorbed. The mixture should be lumpy at this point.
- Very slowly, stir in seltzer water until batter is smooth and easy to stir, but still thick enough to coat the back of a spoon when you lift it up. The texture should be slightly runnier than pancake batter. Season batter very generously with salt and pepper.
- To fry, dredge meat, seafood, drained and cubed tofu, or vegetables in a small amount of the same flour you used for the batter. Shake off excess flour and dip in tempura batter. Shake off excess batter and fry in a neutral-tasting high-heat frying oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, peanut, or sunflower, until batter is golden-brown on all sides.
Makes sufficient batter to cook about two pounds of fish filets or chicken tenderloins, or 1.5 pounds of tofu, scallops, calamari, or vegetables in smaller pieces.
Cooking tempura vegetables: Vegetables with long cooking times, like sweet potatoes and large pieces of broccoli, benefit from parboiling before frying because the frying time may not be long enough to cook them to tenderness. To parboil vegetables, cook them briefly in boiling water until their color is very bright. (For most vegetables, this takes only a few minutes.) Remove immediately and submerge in ice water. Pat dry with paper towels before proceeding with recipe.