A staple of most Japanese restaurants in the U.S. is Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura. Because they are battered and deep fried, they are very familiar to and popular among Americans, especially those who don’t want to venture into sashimi or pickled eggplant territory, namely people like my son.
I bought a frozen package of Orange Roughy at Trader Joe’s awhile ago and decided to make tempura with it. I prefer fresh fish but you can’t beat the price of frozen sometimes! Orange Roughy is very mild and doesn’t impart a fishy smell or strong fish flavor. Cod or Haddock would work well too – ala English Fish and Chips.
I soaked my fillets in some milk for about 30 minutes before cooking just in case there was any lingering “frozen fish” flavor, but you could probably skip this step if you’re pressed for time.
You can make tempura batter from scratch (1 egg, about 1 ¼ cup ice water, and 1 2/3 cup flour mixed together), but I always use a Japanese mix because I think it is a little lighter in texture.
The secret to good tempura batter yielding a light and crispy texture when cooked is using ice water. It’s OK to leave the ice cubes in the batter.
Instead of deep frying , I’ve found that bite sized pieces of fish fillets are small enough to be sautéed in a pan with considerably less oil.
My husband loves these dipped in a duck sauce and my son loves them with ketchup. You can also make a more traditional dip by mixing 1 cup dashi, 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 3 tablespoons mirin together.
If there are leftovers (not likely!), the tempura can be toasted for about 3-4 minutes in a toaster oven for a crunch infusion, and they are very good the next day.
Fish Tempura Bites
3-4 fillets of Orange Roughy or other mild fish
Milk for soaking (optional)
1 cup tempura batter mix
1 cup ice water with ice cubes
Oil for sautéing
Condiments for dipping
- Defrost fish in cold water. Soak in milk for about 30 minutes.
- Cut fillets into bite sized pieces.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
- Stir tempura mix with ice water and ice cubes in a large bowl.
- Dredge fish in batter and sauté in skillet. When edges are golden brown, flip pieces of fish and sauté other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes in total.
- Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with condiments of choice.