Tempura summer vegetables

Serves 4 as a starter
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I often get cravings for tempura and have to order it to get it out of my system. Then I'll get bored of it halfway through and end up leaving most of it. So many tempuras can be just plain dull. But this sauce - a sort of Oriental mayonnaise - from the London restaurant Nobu helps the cause.

I often get cravings for tempura and have to order it to get it out of my system. Then I'll get bored of it halfway through and end up leaving most of it. So many tempuras can be just plain dull. But this sauce - a sort of Oriental mayonnaise - from the London restaurant Nobu helps the cause.

Tempura can be made with all sorts of ingredients from mushrooms to vegetables, shellfish and offal. You know what I'd probably choose, but I'm selflessly giving you a nice, safe, interesting veggie alternative.

I like to put fragrant herbs like basil or lovage in the batter with the vegetables to give the tempura some extra, surprising flavours. Just coat large leaves with batter, or wrap leaves around a piece of veg and dip in batter. You can really add whatever vegetables you want as long as they are cut evenly and they are relatively soft and cook quickly. I wouldn't recommend root vegetables. But as well as the vegetables I've suggested here, you could include samphire, sugar snaps, thin slices of aubergine and courgette flowers, or shredded veg combined together with a bit of batter.

If you don't fancy making the batter, not that it's difficult, use the tempura batter mixes you can buy in shops and supermarkets.

Vegetable or corn oil for deep-frying
8 asparagus tips, cut to about 8-10cm long
8 pieces of sugar snap or mange tout
4 thin spring onions, halved
12 French beans, trimmed

for the sauce

2 egg yolks
A good pinch of salt
Freshly ground white pepper
2tsp rice vinegar
200ml vegetable oil
1tbsp (or more to taste) sweet chilli garlic sauce or sweet chilli sauce with a small crushed garlic clove mixed in

for the batter

200ml iced water
75g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
25g potato flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First make the sauce: in a non-reactive bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the salt and pepper, then gradually trickle in the rice vinegar and oil until the sauce thickens, then add the sweet chilli garlic sauce.

Blanch the asparagus and French beans in boiling salted water for 1 minute, then refresh in cold water, drain and pat dry.

Make the batter by gradually mixing the iced water into the two flours and seasoning. Don't worry if it's a bit lumpy.

For deep frying, pre-heat vegetable or corn oil as before. Dip the vegetables in the batter and drop them into the fat a few pieces at a time until crisp but not browned, stirring them in the oil every so often. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on some kitchen paper and keep warm. Dip, fry and drain the asparagus tips in the same way. Serve with the sauce for dipping, plus, if you like, extra bottled sauces like sweet chilli or chilli and garlic. E

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