Even the best food could use a dash of ones and zeros. Geek out with us as we explore the intersection of food and technology this month.
Ever heard of an iSi Whip?
It's normally sequestered to the world of molecular gastronomy, as the gadget uses gas (nitrous oxide) and the perfect amount of pressure to expel an even distribution of molecules when foam or mousse is expelled from its canister. Well, guess what else it works perfectly for? Tempura batter—and if you're a fan of the Japanese frying method, the tool may be worth its $100+ price tag.
Michael Evans, chef de cuisine of Commonwealth in San Francisco, started using iSi for tempura dishes as a modern twist to a classic batter. "Charging the batter in an iSi allows for a lighter outcome without losing any of its crunch. The batter is bright white when it's finished." Evans also uses the iSi batter on fragile garnishes, such as turnip greens, "to provide crunch to a softer or more delicate dish."
We update a bit ourselves, modifying the soy-based dipping sauce traditionally served with tempura by adding miso and honey for a balance of savory and sweet. And because this recipe is so versatile (experiment with other vegetables or substitute the AP flour with rice flour to make it gluten free), we spice things up with a second dipping sauce—and that's where our rémoulade, spiked with paprika and cayenne, comes in. The TT office is divided as to which sauce we like better, but both are a nice foil for the lightly battered shrimp and vegetables.
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
For the Scallion-Miso Sauce:
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons miso
3 scallions, thinly sliced
For the Spicy Rémoulade:
¾ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cornichons
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 dashes Tabasco
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Tempura:
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ cups club soda, chilled
3 cups (6 ounces) Kalettes or roughly torn red kale leaves
2 cups (6 ounces) broccoli, cut into small florets
2 cups (6 ounces) cauliflower (preferably a mix of white and purple), cut into small florets
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1. Make the scallion-miso sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients until smooth. Set aside. Can be made up to 1 day ahead.
2. Make the spicy rémoulade: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, cornichons, whole-grain Dijon mustard, chives, lemon juice, cayenne, paprika and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and chilled until ready to use.
3. Make the tempura: Pour enough oil into a 6-quart Dutch oven to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Slowing add the club soda, whisking constantly, until a smooth batter forms.
4. Pass the batter through the iSi funnel into the iSi Whip. Screw on 1 iSi N2O cream charger and shake vigorously, 20 seconds. If using a 1-liter iSi Whip, add another charger.
5. Working in batches, place the vegetables and shrimp into a medium bowl. Expel the batter from the iSi Whip on top and stir to coat. Fry, turning occasionally, until the vegetables and shrimp are light golden brown, 4 minutes for the vegetables and 2 to 3 minutes for the shrimp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tempura to a paper-towel lined plate and season immediately with salt. Serve with the scallion-miso sauce and the spicy rémoulade.
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