I started a new job last week (at FoodNavigator-USA, hooray!), which means I’ve had shamefully little time to cook anything, let alone blog about it (or shower or dress like a human or clean my bathroom, etc). Needless to say, I could barely contain my excitement when I came across this recipe for tempura batter from Edward Lee’s Smoke & Pickles cookbook. So much so that I got up early last Saturday morning just to tell you about it!
The batter is very simple (five common pantry ingredients), and it helps you achieve perfectly light and crisp fried things every time. I have already loved it on tilapia and rainbow trout–and burnt the roof of my mouth both times because I couldn’t resist a few bites just after it came out of the oil. But I suspect I will love it just as much on shrimp, thinly sliced vegetables and even pickles.
For those of you who are gluten-free, I checked with chef Lee (he is quite awesome at Twitter responses) and it looks like you can sub the AP flour with an equal amount of amaranth, millet or chickpea flour–or a combination of all three), so fry! Fry with abandon! And please share your results.
Fried tilapia sandwiches
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon drained, chopped capers
1-2 tablespoons chopped cornichons or gherkins (depending how pickly you like your tartar sauce)
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup AP flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg white
1 cup seltzer
Vegetable oil, for frying
Two 4-ounce tilapia or trout fillets
Salt and pepper, to taste
Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
1 baguette, cut into 6-inch pieces
4 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
Your favorite potato chips, on the side
Method: To make the tartar sauce, stir together the mayo, mustard, capers, pickles, onion and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches. Note: The tartar sauce will keep for up to three days in the fridge.
To make the tempura batter, combine the flour, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Whisk in the egg white and seltzer until a thin, pancake-type batter forms. Don’t overmix–small lumps are okay.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil to 375F in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Dip the fillets into the tempura batter to coat completely, allowing the excess to drip off.
Carefully lower the fish into the oil and fry, turning once or twice, until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and crisp and the fish moist inside. Note: For a thicker 6-ounce fillet, cook 5 to 6 minutes.
Move the fish to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle immediately with sea salt.
To assemble the sandwiches, split the baguette pieces lengthwise in half. Spread some of the tartar sauce on each side. Layer the lettuce leave on the bottom, then top with a fillet of fish. Gently close the sandwiches and serve.