Imagine a typical Italian family restaurant in Florence with a Japanese chef and you can get a lot of inspiring ideas.
Italian food has taken the world for its amazingly simple and delicious fresh food. Japanese food is taking its share for the lightness of their cooking methods. Join the two and you can get the best out of many dishes.
Tempura batter is one example. Whilst the Italians have the "Fritto" which is basically a tempura for anything and everything, they do take in account which food they are frying and use different batters accordingly - with whole egg for meat and poultry, with egg yolk, carbonated water and beer for seafood, fish and vegetables.
Then you have the Japanese tempura which can be made with as little as flour and water which tends to make a very light batter.
Whilst working in a restaurant in Florence, I made the batter for the Vegetable and Shrimp Fritto Misto, under the scrutiny of Mikasé, the Japanese Chef, who made an extra light batter for vegetables and shrimp.
Now is the perfect time to try this tempura batter with the young vegetables available. —Maria Teresa Jorge
In a bowl mix the flour, cornstarch and salt with a whisk.
Make a well in the middle and add the egg yolk and 1/2 cup of beer and mix in slowly, working your way until it starts forming a paste. Add 1/2 cup carbonated water stirring well to avoid lumps of flour. Add more beer and carbonated water to obtain a runny batter. Cover and put in the fridge for 2 hours before using it.
Clean your vegetables and cut them up in pieces no more then 2 bites in size and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Put canola oil in a frying pan with the fresh rosemary to perfume your oil, over medium heat. When sizzling hot, drop the pieces of vegetables (one at a time) in the batter and put in hot oil. Allow to fry on one side - DO NOT TURN IT BEFORE IT IS COOKED. Turn it and fry the other side.When the 2nd side is golden remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and put on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. If vegetables are round or long like runner beans avoid touching them, let the heat roll them around.
Finish frying the Fritto, and serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.
Note: this batter works very well with shellfish and small fish.
Keep removing the batter that falls in the oil to prevent overburnt batter that impairs an acid taste to the oil.
Examples of vegetables that are great for fryingwith batter: root vegetables, zucchini, zucchini flowers, eggplant, brocolli fleurets, runner beans, parsley and sage.