Tempura Pancakes
Author: 
Serves: Makes about 8 pancakes
 
This recipe is inspired by Elizabeth Andoh's Heaven-And-Earth Tempura Pancakes from her cookbook "Kansha." These little crispy bites are good as accompaniments to many dishes, vegan or not. I like them as toppers to a steamy bowl of udon noodles. They go well with pan-seared salmon and mixed greens. I used vegetables I had on hand. Bitter melon can be found in Asian markets. The flavor reminds me a little of green bell pepper. I prefer to use sparkling water for tempura batter, but that is optional. Try adding a teaspoon or so of aromatic sesame oil into the vegetable frying oil for additional flavor.
Ingredients
  • 1 small bitter melon (optional)
  • Salt
  • ½ red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, julienned
  • 1 small yellow squash, cut into half-moons
  • 1 small Japanese eggplant, cut into half-moons
  • 2 small carrots, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs
  • Cornstarch
  • Ice cubes (about six)
  • ¼ cup self rising cake flour
  • ⅓ cup sparkling (or still) water
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Instructions
  1. Halve the bitter melon lengthwise. Remove the seeds from the center core with a spoon. Slice the flesh into julienne strips and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt to remove excess liquid and help with the bitterness. Let the melon sit for about ten minutes and rinse under cold water. Pat the melon dry with paper toweling.
  2. Combine the bitter melon, red onion, zucchini, squash, eggplant, carrots and herbs in a medium bowl (or you can separate the vegetables by colors like I did into mostly-green and mostly-orange).
  3. Lightly dust the vegetables in some cornstarch.
  4. In a medium bowl, add in the ice cubes, water, and cake flour. Lightly mix the batter. The ice cubes help the batter to stay cold, which will create a light tempura.
  5. Heat about two inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole pot or in a wok or high-sided skillet to 370 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, test the oil with small bits of batter.
  6. Pour some of the batter over some of the vegetables (I like to do this in small batches at a time). Form about a quarter-cup mound of vegetable-batter mixture onto a wide flat strainer and lower it into the hot oil.
  7. Fry the pancake in the oil for about a minute. Remove the pancake from the hot oil and drain onto paper toweling.
  8. Sprinkle the pancake with some salt. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Recipe by Within The Wild at http://withinthewild.com/2011/04/tempura-pancakes/