Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Have Batter, Will Travel

I've recently come back from Adelaide, land of a surprising variety of vegan goods. One of the places I discovered is Sushi Train - what it sounds like; a sushi train. But they have vegan options! And plenty of them! (Except the usual vegan mainstays - the vegetarian roll and the inari both contain dashi. But are marked veg on the menu. SIGH.)
But I fell in love with this little bastard, the kakiage nigiri:
It's just a fried mixed veg tempura served over a ball of sushi rice with a little nori. But it's AWESOME. To get them without teriyaki and mayo (not vegan) I had to order them fresh, and the crispy nori against the fritter is delicious. Also, it was so nice to go to a sushi train and be able to eat something other than a) cucumber rolls and b) inari (WHICH I COULDN'T EVEN EAT HERE).
I'm gonna miss that place. So I pulled out the deep fryer and recreated the abomination at home.

DIY kakiage nigiri:
Surprisingly, they came out pretty close! The mixture of veg is grated butternut pumpkin, potato and zucchini with minced onion mixed through. Stirred in some tempura batter until veg was coated, formed into rough quenelle shapes on a spoon and dropped into the deep fryer. Perfecto.

And seeing as we're frying stuff, let's do tempura!
Carrot, butternut pumpkin, new potatoes with the skin left on and zucchini (AMAZING). Blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, dredge in flour, dip into your batter, fry. Super easy, super delicious. And so crispy! These stayed crispy for AGES. Look at this crunch! I am stoked.
Oh and corn was cheap too so what the hell, let's make Japanese corn fritters.
Same jam: batter, fresh corn kernels, nothing else. I like to eat these with squares of nori for the sushi-esque flavour. Yum.
I really, really need a salad now.

Tempura batter:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup ice-cold water
1/2 tsp. salt
(if you want to flavour this, go ahead! it's sturdy stuff. Serious Eats suggests curry paste.)

Sift plain flour into a bowl. Add salt and any other flavourings. Just before using, pour in ice cold water and gently mix together with a whisk until just combined. Lumps are fine! Let them be.

For the kakiage (mixed veg fritters):
makes about 10 kakiage
1/3 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 cup butternut pumpkin, grated
2 small new potatoes, grated
One small onion, minced
tempura batter

Combine in bowl. Mix in spoonfuls of tempura batter until all veggies are covered, but there is no excess batter pooling in the bowl. Heat a deep fryer to 180 degrees (or fry in a pot - whatever works). Form quenelles or long croquettes with two spoons and carefully lower into fryer. Fry for around 3-5 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. If you want to make nigiri, make sushi rice (this recipe is great), form a rice ball and pop your kakiage on top. Cut a strip of nori, wrap it around and dampen the ends to make it stick. Done.

For the corn fritters:
makes around ten medium-large fritters
one fresh ear of corn, shucked
tempura batter

Remove kernels from corn cob. Collect in bowl. Add spoonfuls of batter until kernels are covered, but not to excess, Heat deep fryer to 180 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of batter into fryer and fry for 3-5 minutes until batter is lightly brown and crispy to touch. Drain and serve.

Actual tempura:
fresh veggies of choice
tempura batter
plain flour - maybe 1/3 cup?

Pour plain flour onto a plate or shallow bowl. Slice vegetables of choice into 4mm or less slices. Blanch vegetable slices in boiling water until cooking process has just started, about two minutes. Drain and pat dry. Heat deep fryer to 180. Dredge slices in flour, then in batter. Drop into deep fryer and agitate basket so they don't stick. Fry for around three minutes until batter feels solid to the touch and vegetables are cooked. Remove, drain, repeat as necessary. Easy!