Around the world in 80 dishes No.7: Japan

Japan: hake tempura by Hugo Arnold



Ingredients to serve 2



Half an egg, beaten

125ml cold lager

pinch of bicarbonate of soda

salt and white pepper

50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

400ml vegetable oil

400g hake, skinned and cut into 8 large chunks

300g ramen noodles

1 litre vegetable stock (to make, see below)

small handful of watercress

handful of beansprouts

6 spring onions, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 2.5cm slices

1 red chilli, trimmed and sliced



For the vegetable stock:

4 Chinese leaves

450g potatoes, peeled

2 carrots

2 tablespoons chopped canned tomatoes

1 small sweet potato

Half a small butternut squash

1 white onion

1 red onion

1 leek

3 litres water



Method

There is nothing difficult about making tempura dishes; just make sure you use ice-cold lager and pure vegetable oil and don't over-whisk the batter mixture. That way, it will remain light and airy rather than gooey and elastic. Make your stock in advance. The recipe here is for 3 litres, so you can keep some to freeze.

Roughly chop all the vegetables and put in a large pan with the water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 3 hours. Turn off the heat, allow to cool and strain. Season with 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons sugar and a pinch of white pepper.

To make the hake tempura, cook the noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Drain thoroughly, refresh under cold water and divide between 2 bowls.

Combine the egg, lager, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper and the flour in a bowl and whisk to form a light batter. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until a little batter dropped in sinks to the bottom and the rises up.

Dip the fish in the extra flour and then in the batter and deep fry 4 pieces at a time for 5 minutes until golden and cooked through. Make sure that none sticks to the bottom of the pan, which can happen if the oil is not quite hot enough. Bring the stock to the boil and ladle over the noodles. Top with the watercress and beansprouts. Put the fish pieces on top and sprinkle with the slices of spring onion and chilli.



From The Wagamama Cookbook by Hugo Arnold (Kyle Cathie, £14.99)

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