Summer Garden Tempura
For the tempura batter:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups iced sparkling water or cold beer
2 cups sunflower or peanut oil
2 handfuls of green beans, ends left on
1 pepper, cut into strips
1 eggplant, cut into discs
4 zucchini or summer squash, cut in half or whole if small
1 handful fresh basil leaves
2-3 beets cooked briefly and sliced into bite-sized sections
2-3 carrots cooked briefly and sliced into bite-sized sections
Sauté the onions in oil until soft. Add parsley; stir to wilt.
First, make the tempura batter. Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and pepper and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and, with a whisk, mix in the cold water or beer to make a batter the thickness of heavy cream but not too smooth. Keep this in the refrigerator until you need it.
Pour the oil into a deep pot so that it reaches about 1/3 of the way up the side. Heat the oil until it reaches about 325 degrees F. If you don’t have an oil thermometer, it’s easy to test the temperature. Drop a cube of bread into the oil. It should turn golden brown in less than a minute.
Dip the vegetables, roots and basil into the batter, a few at a time, and then into the hot oil until pale gold and crisp. Drain them on towels.