Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vegetable Tempura and Tempura Udon Noodle Soup

Tempura udon noodle soup is pretty much my go to order at Japanese restaurants if they don't serve ramen.  I love the contrast of the crunchy tempura vegetables with the thick, chewy noodles and the delicate broth that brings it all together. 

Tempura isn't something I'd normally make at home since deep frying can be such a pain, but being able to eat freshly fried tempura is so good that it's worth it.  You can also refrigerate any leftovers and heat them up in the oven or toaster oven, but it won't be as good.

Vegetable Tempura
serves 3-4

Assorted vegetables (I used a large sweet potato, half a bunch of broccoli, and half a red onion)
Neutral oil for frying (I used canola)
1 egg yolk
1 cup ice water
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

Peel and slice the sweet potato into think rounds.  Cut the broccoli into florets and discard the stalk.  Cut the onion into thin slices.  Spread the cut vegetables out and allow to air dry for at least half an hour, flipping the pieces halfway through.

Pour enough oil into a heavy pot so that the oil is at least 2" deep.  Heat on high until the oil reaches 350°F.

In the meantime, mix the egg yolk, ice water, and flour to make the tempura batter.  Prepare a draining rack by lining a baking tray with two layers of paper towels and then laying cooling racks on top of the towels. 

Once the oil has reached 350°F, drop a few pieces of vegetable in the batter to coat and carefully lower into the oil (I used chopsticks to do this).  Make sure you do not overcrowd the pot; you don't want the vegetables to touch each other while they're cooking, and you don't want the temperature of the oil to drop too much.

When the vegetables have lightly browned, remove with a slotted spoon and place on the draining rack.  Make sure the oil has heated back up to 350°F and repeat with the rest of the vegetables in small batches.  Serve immediately.

You can make a dipping sauce by mixing one cup of dashi with 1/4 cup mirin and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

To make tempura udon noodle soup, heat two cups of dashi and add 2 tablespoons of mirin and soy sauce each.  Pour into a large soup bowl, add cooked udon noodles, and top with vegetable tempura.

If you end up with leftover batter after frying all the vegetables, drip it into the hot oil to make tenkasu (tempura flakes).  I like to add these to the udon noodle soup for added texture.  You can also use them in okonomiyaki.

Next:  Thomas Keller's Lemon Tart
Previously:  Homemade Udon Noodles
Four years ago:  Curry Turnovers


  1. It looks yummy, but I rail at the idea of trimming the tops off of broccoli and throwing stems away. IMHO they are the best part. I used to buy the ones (sold as Chinese Broccoli back in the 1970's) that are all stem and little tops, but now that I have a family, I just buy regular ones and feed the tops to my kids. :-)

    1. True, I should have said save the stalk for something else instead of discarding it. How do you prepare the stalks?

    2. I cut them in "coins". sometimes I steam them and serve them with "oyster sauce", sometimes I stir fry them, and sometimes I just use them in cream of broccoli soup.
      I especially like them with beef in an "oyster sauce" with ginger, served over noodles. I have not been able to get chow fun noodles here (Israel), so I use regular fettuccine.