Small crappies and, particularly, bluegills are my favorite tempura fish, although many people prefer perch. Any panfish will do—as will finger-sized strips cut from the fillets of larger fish. Serve with our Ginger Dipping Sauce.
For the tempura (serves four) . . .
12 small panfish fillets, patted dry
Assorted fresh, seasonal vegetables of your choice cut into large pieces—green & red bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, red onions, snow peas, sweet potatoes
For the batter . . .
2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
2 c. ice-cold beer (or water)
extra flour for dipping,
mixed with salt & pepper
» Set up the ingredients in the frying area in assembly-line fashion: (1) prepared fish and vegetables, (2) flour for dipping, (3) batter, (4) fryer with oil, and (5) pan lined with paper towels to drain finished tempura.
» To make the batter, beat the eggs slightly, then add ice-cold beer (or water) and mix lightly. Add the flour and beat a few times with a fork or until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be lumpy. Heat the oil to 360°F.
» Dip the fish and vegetables in flour, shake off the excess, and dip them in the batter. Slide the pieces into hot oil and fry until golden—about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve at once with dipping sauce.
Ginger Dipping Sauce . . .
5 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp. garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
5 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. scallion, finely minced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. lime, lemon, or orange juice
2 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
pinch of red chili flakes
» Combine ingredients and stir well.