Monday, October 24, 2005


Hey all;

Last night we had an impromptu (read: unexpected) flash of genius in the tenpura pan. E was tired and didn't want to cook but she mentioned wanting zucchini. When I was a young'un I hated zucchini more than anything, but now I like it fine. Still, I wasn't up for just making some sort of stir-fry with them. I looked in the cabinet for my old friend, and there it was staring back at me on the first shelf...tenpura batter. Aaaaah yeah.

Now, the secret to good tenpura (aside from using a good oil such as peanut) is of course in the batter. You have got to keep that stuff cold if you want the finished product to have those little waving arms of crispy batter that they do in the restaurants. Thanks to Yoko for pointing this out to me. Now I keep my batter in the freezer when I'm not dipping into it, and I also have an ice cube in the mix just to help it along. Change the ice cube regularly to prevent the batter from thinning. Another measure of prevention against this (since the vegetables you're going to be cooking will be wet too) is to make the batter a bit stiff in the first place so it can handle the extra H2O.

It's no stroke of genius to take out vegetables and start battering and frying them. Naturally I cut up a homegrown kabocha and threw that in the mix, also present was an onion and the aforementioned zucchini. What was the real kicker though was that I started tenpura-ing halved serrano and jalapeño peppers. E was like to die when they came out; I think she ate more peppers than zucchini. I have tenpurad several uncommon vegetables and I would like to propose a CaliforniAsian fusion dish starring several of these: Gilroy elephant garlic, Santa Barbara Haas avocados, SoCal's Kabocha (yes, it's where Japan gets its Kabocha from) and the central valley's own Jalapeño peppers. For a base why not eat it with some Californian-grown hinode or calrose Japanese short grain rice?

An orthographic note: why am I writing it t-e-n-pura, you might ask? Don't Japanese restaurants spell it "tempura"?
You are correct. However, this is what I'd like to call an orthographic representation of an articulatory assimilative event. See, the word 'tenpura' is made up of two Chinese characters that the Japanese have appropriated for their own use: Ten ('heaven') and Pura (I believe it is a shortened form of "abura", 'oil', changing to /p/ from /b/ in a devoicing assimilation to the T...but I digress). So when you are saying 'tenpura', even when you attempt to say it with an N- sound, the various parts of your mouth begin to anticipate the bilabial P- sound you are about to make, and turn the N into another bilabial, M.

Anyways, the original pun was meant to convey that this tenpura gets a 10 from the American judges. Just ask Dr. Science.


Post a Comment

<< Home