Onionweed Tempura

11:30 am on 20 May 2013

The key to good tempura is using icy cold water and whisking up the batter just before you’re going to cook it. The rice flour ensures a light-as-air batter. Test cook a bit of batter and if it’s soggy, try hotter oil, colder batter, or both, before cooking the rest. Makes a meal or snack for 2–6, depending on how many flowers you gather.

From A Forager's Treasury: A New Zealand guide to finding and using wild plants by Johanna Knox, published by Allen and Unwin.

Ingredients

  • a few handfuls of onionweed flowers
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • salt to taste
  • cooking oil

Method

Cut the flowers off their stalks 1–2 cm below where the flowers join the stalks. This holds the clusters together and gives you enough stalk to grip when you dip them in the batter. Chill the water until it’s icy cold. You can put it in the freezer for a bit, or add ice cubes to bring the temperature down more quickly.

Whisk the egg in a bowl.

Add the icy water and whisk some more.

Add the rice flour and salt, and mix gently and briefly with a spoon.

Put about 5 mm of oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium–high heat.

Once the oil is very hot, work quickly. Dip each flower into the batter and drop it into the oil. Don’t do too many at once, as you don’t want the temperature of the oil to drop.

When a battered flower is lightly browned on one side, turn it over — it won’t take very long.

Remove each battered flower from the oil as soon as it’s lightly brown on both sides, and place on a paper towel to drain.

Variations

Try making tempura from new dandelion flowers, clusters of pūhā flowerbuds, whole nasturtium flowers or leaves, whole kawakawa leaves, whole borage leaves, pikopiko, purslane or pre-cooked seaweed strands.

Tips for serving

Eat as is or serve or with a dipping sauce. Try sweet Sweet Horopito Sauce or yoghurt-herb dip.

You could serve tempura with tomato sauce or a light Japanese soy sauce.

Alternatively, you could make tempura with cultivated veges such as onion rings, green beans, courgette or kūmara slices to serve with wild mayonnaise or yoghurt-herb dip.

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