Batter up

Bubbly water is the secret to these crunchy coatings and light doughs.

For tempura you fry at home, simply trim green beans and asparagus, cut squid bodies into rings, halve large mushrooms, and cut small onions and sweet potatoes into 3/8-inch slices.
Photograph byJim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty
For tempura you fry at home, simply trim green beans and asparagus, cut squid bodies into rings, halve large mushrooms, and cut small onions and sweet potatoes into 3/8-inch slices.


Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer 

About 1½ quarts canola or other neutral, high-smoke-point oil, for frying

½ cup cake flour

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Kosher salt

2/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sparkling water, cold

1¼ pounds mixed vegetables and squid, cut up and kept cold

Hot pepper sauce, lemon wedges, or simple dipping sauce (see recipe at right), for serving, if desired

Line a baking sheet with 3 layers of paper towels and set aside. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the side of a medium-size heavy Dutch oven, add the oil, and heat over medium-high until it reaches 390 degrees.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl about full with ice and water. In a bowl that will fit into the larger one, whisk the flours and ½ teaspoon salt; set that bowl to chill over the ice water. When the oil reaches 380 degrees, add the sparkling water to the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated and still a bit lumpy.

Working with about 8 pieces of vegetables or squid (cut into 1-inch rings) at a time, use tongs or chopsticks to coat in the batter, then fry until slightly puffed and pale gold (adjust the heat as necessary to maintain 390 degrees), stirring and turning them over in the oil once or twice so they’ll fry evenly. Cooking will take about 4 minutes for green beans or asparagus, 5 minutes for sweet potatoes, onions, and mushrooms, and 1½ minutes for squid rings. Transfer the tempura to the lined baking sheet to drain for 30 seconds, sprinkle lightly with salt, and serve with hot sauce, lemon wedges, or dipping sauce. (Or place tempura on a rack set on a baking sheet in a 250-degree oven while you fry the remaining batches, up to 20 minutes.) Allow the oil to recover to 390 degrees and repeat, serving in batches or all at once.




Makes about 2/3 cup

¼ cup mirin

¼ cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, or more to taste

1½ teaspoons Asian toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

2 scallions, thinly sliced

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In bowl, whisk ingredients plus 1½ tablespoons water to combine, then serve.



Serves 6 as an appetizer

Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s PBS cooking showMore Fast Food My Way.

½ pound bay scallops

1 oil-packed anchovy fillet

1 teaspoon finely grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

1½ cups sparkling water, cold

2/3 cup cake flour

4 scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

3 tablespoons neutral oil, or more, as necessary

6 cups (loosely packed) mesclun or arugula, washed and dried

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place a rack on a baking sheet, set aside, and heat the oven to 250 degrees. Finely chop half the scallops and set aside. In a food processor, puree the remaining scallops, anchovy, zest, 1¼ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ¼ cup of the sparkling water for 20 seconds. Add flour and remaining sparkling water, and process until smooth, 15 seconds more. Scrape into a bowl, and stir in chopped scallops and scallions.


In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil until shimmering. Spoon batter, about 2 scant tablespoons per pancake, into the skillet and cook until the edges are golden and the tops no longer look wet, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for about 2 minutes longer. Transfer pancakes to the rack and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batter, up to 20 minutes. Repeat in batches to make 18 pancakes, adding oil as necessary.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the mesclun or arugula with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide greens among 6 plates, arrange the pancakes over the greens, and serve at once.



Serves 6

At brunch, serve these sweet dumplings with bacon, strong coffee, and fruit. For dessert, stick with whipped cream or ice cream.

1 cup maple syrup

1½ cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen

½ teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup sparkling water, cold

1/3 cup orange juice

1½ tablespoons bourbon

With the rack in center position, heat the oven to 225 degrees. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the syrup and 3 cups water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater and whisk it into flour mixture. Add the vanilla to the sparkling water, then fold into the flour mixture, creating a sticky dough. With wet hands, roll dough into 18 1½-inch balls.


Drop 6 dough balls into the boiling syrup, adjust to medium-low, cover, and simmer until dumplings are cooked, about 15 minutes, turning once. With a slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to a plate and keep warm in oven. Repeat in batches.

After removing the last dumplings from the pot, adjust heat to medium-high and whisk the orange juice and bourbon into the syrup. Cook 1 minute and serve at once, topping each serving with a portion of the sauce.

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