21st May 2013
When I’ve had a naughty day at work like today (snacking constantly on wine gums and chocolate) I want to make something healthy for dinner. The thing is, I often can’t face proper ‘health food’, as it just doesn’t seem like enough of an incentive to get in to the kitchen and cook.
This salad is an ideal compromise – lots of vegetables, but a bit of batter thrown in for that indulgent kick. The best thing about it is that making the tempura is really fun. So it’s a nice wind down activity as well. I think it would be great to serve for a summer dinner party, you’d just have to make sure to get all the prep done first and the timing of the tempura right.
For the salad:
Finely chop spring onions and carrots, and quarter some tomatoes.
While you’ve got the veg board out, dice a couple of cloves of garlic and a bit of ginger (for the dressing). Cut a lime in half and roughly chop some mint.
Mix up the dressing in a jug/bowl/mug… whatever’s handy. These are the ingredients – don’t worry about exact measurements, taste it when you’re done and see if any little adjustments are needed.
- Juice from the lime (no pips please)
- The chopped garlic and ginger
- Couple of tablespoons fish sauce
- Couple of tablespoons soy sauce
- One tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
- One tablespoon of sugar
Throw in some fresh chilli if you like it spicy.
Place a generous handful of the carrot, spring onions and tomatoes on a bed of crispy salad leaves on each plate you’re serving up. Sprinkle with some mint. You can probably get 3 good servings from these quantities (or starter sizes for 6).
Put those to one side somewhere cool, and whip up your batter. This is really easy – whisk together 100g of plain floor, a pinch of salt, an egg yolk, a teaspoon of baking powder and 150ml sparkling water.
It should end up looking something like this…
Now the fun part! The next couple of steps need to happen fairly quickly, so it’s helpful if you have someone around to join in. You can slow it down a bit if you’ve got a hot plate or an Aga to keep the tempura warm on, but they’re really best served as fresh as possible.
You can use this batter for anything – meat, veg, even cheese (yes, I tried it!).
For this salad, I did a mixture of prawns and chicken. Heat up 1/3 of a pan of vegetable oil or similar. It’s ready when you chuck a crumb of bread in and it sizzles. PLEASE be careful, hot oil is very dangerous. Do not flick any water into the pan by accident.
Use two forks to dip the prawns and chicken (bite size pieces) into the batter, and then cook in the oil for 1-2 minutes. When they’re golden, lift them out of the oil (carefully, again) and place them on a plate covered with kitchen towel. Work through them in batches of 5 or 6 at a time – if you do too many the oil will cool down and they’ll get soggy.
About half way through cooking the tempura, put a packet of fresh white noodles in a bowl with a tablespoon of water and zap them in the microwave for a minute (I know.. cheating..).
You can start arranging and serving your salads while your lovely assistant finishes the rest of the tempura. This way the batter should still be hot and crispy, the noodles warm, and the salad zingy.
I placed noodles around the outside of the leaves and then put the tempura on top of the noodles in a ring.
Pour some dressing evenly over the leaves, tempura and noodles. You can see the bits of garlic and ginger, which are slightly softened after marinading.
And it’s ready! A guilt free, treat of a salad.
And if you didn’t eat your body weight in wine gums today, enjoy the extra tempura with some sweet chilli sauce or any other dip that takes your fancy.