Kitchen Xiuzhen, Chapter 53 – Tempura
Translated by Prosperousfood.com
Rehosted by Gumihou at kitchennovel.com
Notes from Gumihou
While waiting for the steam buns to be ready, Luo Xiu returns to making the cake and tempura.
Making cake is easy. All he needs to do to mix the [Ban Zi] egg, [Insect Nectar], milk of [Mao Shou], and then bake it for a while. It will be ready on its own.
The cake that is cumbersome to make for many people seemed to be easy to make when Luo Xiu do it.
Cake the most basic cooking skills for any pastry chef.
Luo Xiu’s cooking draws expertise from many international cuisines. He is well versed not only in Chinese cuisine, but is also proficient in western cooking, French cooking, and Japanese cooking. Once your cooking skills reach a certain level, you can transform any ingredients into a fine delicacy.
The most important point is that the food you made is delicious.
Shua la la!
A milky white batter filled with a rich, mouth-watering aroma was poured into a baking tray.
The baking tray was pushed into a specially crafted original oven. There is a hearth furnace under it. Luo Xiu started the fire and the cake will slowly bake.
This hearth furnace can adjust the size of the flames. Right now, everything is ready – it only needs continuous heating to allow the cake to bake slowly and form.
This cake will be the dessert for today.
For the opening dish, Luo Xiu chose to cook a famous dish in Japanese cuisine – Tempura.
This is one of the four major Japanese cuisines . It is a kind of fried food and has a long history.
Unlike most Chinese fried dish, the batter is very thin and shallow.
This batter is created by flour, eggs, water into a slurry mixture. Then it is used to coat fish, prawns and vegetables. Finally, it is deep fried.
When you eat it, you can dip in a special sauce made from soy sauce and radish juice . The sauce made the fried food taste fresh and delicious, fragrant but not greasy.
It is perfect as a starter dish.
As tempura is traditionally fried using low-temperature sesame oil, it does not appear to be very oily. On the contrary, it tastes extremely refreshing.
As for why the name is so strange, it is derived from the Portuguese, which means “faster”.
In the fifteenth century, the Portuguese used frying as a method of cooking so that they could eat at a faster rate. However, the Portuguese did not spread this technique of cooking. When Portuguese missionaries entered Japan in the 16th century and spread this method of cooking did it become popular in Japan .
This method of cooking requires very little preparation and is very suitable for the busy Japanese workers.
It took less than one minute to fry the food, and it is ready for consumption.
Because it is quick, therefore Luo Xiu selected this dish.
While it may be quick to cook, this short period of time examine the cooking skills of the chef.
Luo Xiu had already prepared the tempura batter.
In Chinese, Tempura is written as天麸罗. The first character “天” refers to the oil; the second character “麸” refers to the flour; and “罗” refers to the shirt (coating).
These three are required to make a good tempura.
You need to let the ingredients soak the starch before you can put it into the pan to fry… But the coating of tempura is quite thin and just a bit stickier than water.
The method of adjusting the coating is to emphasize the taste of each individual ingredient encased within.
In most Chinese cuisines, the batter is generally required to coat all the ingredients and fried together . This is the biggest difference.
The thinner the coating, the more crispy and refreshing the ingredients that were encapsulated will taste. It will also highlight the taste of the original flavour of the ingredients.
Hence, the difficulty of making Tempura is because of the coating.
If the coating of the batter is too thin, it will slip off and the ingredients within will not be uniformly coated. As a result, the fried tempura will not only taste unpalatable, but will also be ugly in appearance.
If the batter is too thick, it will taste like the starch in Chinese food. The outer layer of the tempura is full of batter, and the taste is very oily and sticky, making it unpalatable.
Luckily, Luo Xiu is an expert in blending the batter.
This bowl of [Ban Zi] eggs and flour, plus the bowl of ice water, means that the batter of the “Tempura” is absolutely perfect!
By using ice-water to create the batter, the batter will be thinner and crispy at the same time.
Luo Xiu first washed his hands clean, then he slid his finger into the batter.
The batter stuck to Luo Xiu’s finger and did not drip down. It covered his finger completely. This is a method to judge if the batter is of good quality.
A good batter will cover the finger completely without leaving any holes. It should not slip off easily and is a bit sticky. This indicates that the batter is of a good quality.
Everyone was surprised by Luo Xiu’s weird action.
Why did Chef Luo stick his finger into it and examined his finger?
But no one asked him. They had no clue what he is making, so they had no idea where to start asking.
Luo Xiu jerked his hand violently, the batter on his finger returned to the container.
Then he picked up the Deeson Fruit that was placed on one side of the counter and quickly cut it.
The knife skills that he had display frightened and shock Nie Ji.
But before Nie Ji could cry out in surprise, Luo Xiu had already picked up a slice of the Deeson Fruit and coated it using the batter.
The fine batter encapsulated the Deeson Fruit slice. It is quite transparent, and you could see through the batter and see the Deeson Fruit slice inside it.
Luo Xiu turned on the stove and set the fire to high. Under the high heat, the oil inside the work begins to sizzled and bubbles.
If you are cooking Tempura, it is best to use sesame oil.
But there is no sesame oil here, and he could only use a substitute product that is similar to sesame oil.
On Earth, there are two types of sesame oils that are highly suitable for frying tempura.
One is a white sesame oil that has not been baked and is directly extracted from the white sesame seeds.
The other sesame oil has been baked at low temperatures.
These two oils are known as Taibai oil and Taixiang oil.
Both of these sesame oils have a unique flavour and is not too thick. This help to preserve the original flavour of the food.
The Taibai oil is lighter in colour and the taste is milder and gentle; The texture is also finer.
Taixiang oil is deeper in colour, and the taste is richer. The texture is coarser.
Each of them has their unique points.
If you use the Taibai oil to fry tempura, the tempura will be silver in colour.
If you use the Taixiang oil to fry tempura, the tempura will golden in colour.
These two types of tempura are collectively known as the silver and golden tempura.
Luo Xiu did not have these two types of sesame oil here. He could only use a type of oil called [Bi Duan Oil]. It is purer than these two types of oil.[Bi Duan Oil] is directly extracted from the fruits of the [Bi Duan] tree, and the oil is very pure.
Just when everyone was wondering what Luo Xiu was going to, he dropped the coated slice of Deeson Fruit into the hot oil.
“Shua La La!”
The [Bi Duan oil] continuously bubbled and sizzled, and rapidly cooked the Deeson Fruit slice. The coating turned white in colour and seemed to shine in the oil.
After a few seconds, Luo Xiu immediately used a pair of long chopsticks to pick it up from the oil.
Not one drop of the oil dripped down from the tempura.
“How… how come the oil did not drip down?”
Wang Xi looked at Luo Xiu and asked, “Also, the Deeson Fruit is not fried properly yet?”
He looked at the slice of Deeson Fruit on Luo Xiu’s chopstick. It looks so perfect, and the snow white coat looks like snowdrops on it.
This is one of the finest tempura.
Luo Xiu used his chopstick to break the Deeson Fruit Tempura apart. Hot steam of air flown out from the broken parts of the Deeson fruit tempura.
“This is the first dish I will be making today – “
Luo Xiu continued to fry more tempura, and offered them to Wang Xi.
The aromatic smell of the freshly fried tempura filled the Nine Gates Restaurant.
Notes Kindly ignore the rubbish from the author. He is really ignorant. Japan had more than 4 major cuisines. Sushi, Sashimi, Tempura, Curry rice, Soba, Ramen, Udon, Toriyaki, Teppanyaki, Donbaru, Shabu-Shabu, Sukiyaki, Tonkatsu etc. I can list so many delicious Japanese cuisines without doing any research whatever.
Yes, what prosperousfood said Tempura sauce is not made from radish juice. I have checked many original Japanese recipes and could not find any mention of radish juice. So it annoys me when I translate this. Most tempura sauces are made from mirin (low alcohol sake with sugar, or sweet white wine if you cannot find any mirin) and soy sauce, and with a dash of dashi (Japanese soup stock) or water.
If the author is in anyway educated about Japanese Tempura, he would know that it’s traditionally eaten with salt. Yes, those little white crystals he was so proud to show off to this isekai world.
I find this really ironic.
Also, the tempura sauce is basically soba sauce. What is soba sauce, you say? It’s bottled soy sauce that’s blended with mirin, sugar and other ingredients and eaten with soba.
And yes, radish is involved. But NOT the radish juice. This is rubbish. The radish is grated and mixed in with the sauce for a more refreshing taste.
Only the best tempura could be eaten with salt, mediocre tempura is eaten with dipping sauce. Old tempura, one that has been sitting around for an hour or a day would be placed on rice and drizzled with the dipping sauce. It is true that Tempura may have roots in Portuguese and Spanish missionaries. There is still today a dish in Portugal very similar to tempura called Peixinhos da Horta, “garden fishes”, which consists of green beans dipped in a batter and fried. The end result of this batter is usually heavier than tempura. But the Japanese deserve credit for making the tempura batter.  Chinese cuisines seldom use batter. They usually add the flour directly on top of the meat and marinate it then fry it. But I will give the author the benefit of doubt here.
Okay, I’m going to give everyone a basic run down of what makes for a good tempura:
First, never over mix the batter. Ice water is correct, but the NOT over mixing is important.
Second, coating of the tempura. Surprise, surprise, the batter is NOT suppose to cling onto the whole… whatever ingredient you’re cooking perfectly. Imperfection is beauty in the eyes of the Japanese. So, bad!
Third, the second key thing to cooking tempura is oil temperature. Any neutral tasting oil is acceptable, and yes, the yellow oil and white oil thing is true. Osaka people tend to prefer the white oil whereas the Tokyoites prefers yellow oil. However, I am highly suspicious of tempura chefs who batter their ingredients First, then heat up their oil!! Blasphemy! Give me my money back!!
The oil must first reach the optimum temperature, then you dip your ingredient (singular) into the batter, which still has clumps of flour floating on top. Finally, the battered ingredient is placed gently into the hot oil.
ONLY ONE ingredient is placed in the oil, unless you can control the temperature of the oil, most tempura chefs keep a stern eye on their ingredients and fished the cooking tempura out of the oil at the ‘perfect’ time. Only very experienced tempura chefs familiar with different kinds of ingredients, fish, shrimp, different kinds of fish, vegetables, etc are able to do this perfectly. Which is why gourmet tempura shops are EXPENSIVE!!
Cheap tempura shops are able to control the temperature of the oil via MACHINES and COMPUTERS frying loads of things on a CONVEYOR BELT FRYER!! Negating the need for an experienced chef.
WRONG FACT!! BAD!!
Apologies, the foodie in Translator-san hates it when authors wrote rubbish. I know this is a fictional novel. But I like it better when it had a bit of reality in it. Don’t you?