Japan Eats

Recipe: Basil no tempura (basil tempura)

Dried shrimp and basil in a delicate tempura batter.

Basil works remarkably well in tempura. Here, the herb is combined with a handful of dried shrimp which adds some weight as well as texture to the dish.

When you mix the basil, tempura powder and ice water, be careful not to mix them for too long. There should still be pockets of dry powder in the mixture. In order to prevent the leaves from separating in the oil, hold the ingredients with the chopsticks until the outside of the ingredients become solid for 10 seconds.

As soon as you find the tempura are crispy, take them out of the oil. Deep frying for too long will kill the aroma of the basil.

This dish pairs well with a dry white wine like chardonnay or a sake such as Tateyama Junmai Ginjo.

Basil tempura.

Basil tempura.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 25 g of fresh basil (leaves and buds)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of sakuraebi (dried shrimp)
  • 3 – 3.5 tablespoons of tempura powder
  • 2 tablespoons of ice water

Method

Wash the basil leaves, shake off any water and place them in a bowl. Add the dried shrimp.

Gently sprinkle the tempura powder over the ingredients and add ice water. Mix  roughly so that the ingredients will hold together in the cooking oil.

Place a deep-frying dish containing 2 – 3 cm vegetable oil on a medium high gas and heat it to 170℃.

Next, separate the tempura ingredients into 5 – 6 portions. Deep-fry one side of each portion for about a minute. Once the ingredients become crispy, turn over and deep-fry for a further 30 seconds.

Remove the tempura from the oil and place on a paper towel so any oil drains away.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt and serve.

Thai noodle salad

Again with the nampla!

This week, a variation on the classic Thai glass-noodle salad (yum woon sen). This dish works well as a kind of otsumami (small dish to accompany alcohol) – the zest of the lemon juice and the spice of the peppers loose nothing after a few glasses of beer or shochu.

This particular recipe uses ingredients which are readily available in Japan. For a more authentic Thai flavor, exchange limes for lemons and add extra peppers. Also, in Thailand the coriander root is used to give the sauce even greater flavor. If you want to try this, use a mortar and pestle to crush a coriander root together with the chopped red pepper, then add fish sauce, sugar and lemon/lime juice.

Thai noodle salad

Thai noodle salad

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 50 g cellophane noodles (bean threads)
  • 100 – 120 g cabbage
  • 60 – 70 g celery (including leaves)
  • 50 g red onion
  • 100 g shrimp
  • 100 g ground pork
  • 10 – 15 g coriander

Salad dressing

  • 3 table spoons of Thai fish sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 tea spoons of sugar
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 – 2 red peppers

Method

Cut the cabbage into thin strips and the red onion into thin slices. Next, slice the celery stems diagonally and the leaves into large pieces.

Chop the coriander stems finely and cut the leaves into large pieces.

Place all of the vegetables into a large salad bowl, roughly 25 cm in diameter.

Wash the shrimp carefully and boil them. When cooked, drain and cool so that the shells can be removed.

Pour 2 cups of water into a small pan and bring it to the boil. Next, put the ground pork into the pan and cook for about 4 – 5 minutes, stirring so as to break it up.

Before cooking the cellophane noodles, prepare the salad dressing. Remove the stalk and seeds from the red pepper and cut into 5 mm pieces. Place these in a small bowl.

Add fish sauce, sugar and mix together with the peppers. Finally, add lemon juice and mix together roughly.

Place a pan with 4 -5 cups of water onto a high heat. Once it has come to the boil, place the cellophane noodles into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Once cooked, drain the noodles and cut them into lengths of about 10 cm. Place in the salad bowl.

While the cellophane noodles are still warm, pour the dressing over the ingredients and mix together by hand. Serve with a garnish of coriander leaves.