Ssssssh – this is secret!

I believe I hit on something righteous last night while whipping up dinner for a band of gamblers at our kitchen table (in truth, it was training session for my benefit, as I’ll shortly be trying my luck at a casino in the fair Cape town of Worcester, but more on that later).

The main event was sesame-crusted seared tuna, but since I’ve become a friend of the hot oil, I couldn’t resist adding some crunch, and I hadn’t yet produced onion rings. The plan was to tempura them in a wok: also my first hot oil adventure without the deep-fryer and all its reassuring temperature control. So far, so good, and nothing particularly special about onion rings in a tempura batter, I hear you say. But what about slivers of fresh ginger in the same batter?

I have no idea why no one has thought of this before. (Hello!!!!!). If you google “ginger tempura” all you get is ginger as one ingredient in something else. But this little root deserves its very own parcel of crunchy goodness. They were like excellent little spicy nuggets, the slight burniness of fresh ginger perfectly tempered by the half a minute or so that they got to steam inside a rapidly crisping batter.

If the world has any sense, this number will find it’s way onto people’s plates in the very near future. Just remember where you heard it first, on this day of this year.

For those still looking for a tempura batter that works (and that means it goes real crunchy and stays that way even when it cools down), try this:

– 100g rice flour

– 1 egg white

– about half a cup of cold soda water (this depends on how thick you want the batter: some vegetables do well with a very thin coating, and you don’t mind if they aren’t completely immersed, while something like ginger wants quite a thick chunky batter to be completely sealed).

Go ahead and throw a teaspoon or so of Chinese five(/six/seven) spice into it to get some flavour going.

And here’s another tip I learnt (through error): if you tempura in a deep-fryer, don’t lay the vegetables into the basket and then lower that into the oil: the batter will grow into/around the bottom of the basket, and you’ll end up with stuck tempura. Make sure you lower whatever you’re frying directly into the oil, so the batter has space to grow; it should come floating up pretty much straight away.

Try the ginger. You will not be disappointed. (And how about whole garlic cloves? Or pre-roasted whole garlic cloves? Or that great Chinese ginger candy? Molecular gastronomists of the world, watch your backs! One of these days someone is going to deep fry soup in my kitchen).