After being obsessed with Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty for a couple of years now, I finally got it. I used to borrow it from friends, check it out from the library (if they had it) or just oogle the beautiful photographs while at the bookstore. While it’s not a vegan cookbook, the emphasis is on vegetables, so I’m into it. The photography is perfect, not over-styled, not too pretty. He uses a lot of dairy and eggs, but after almost 10 years of veganism my mind automatically figures in similar foods that I can enjoy. Instead of crumbled hard-boiled egg, I would add in crumbled tofu. Ottolenghi garnishes with yogurt on practically everything, and while you can definitely find some plain vegan yogurt to use I personally would prefer some lemony cashew cream. You get the point.
I’m not too big into actually cooking from recipes but I mostly just use cookbooks to get inspiration for dishes I would like to make or just straight up copy. In Ottolenghi’s recipe for tempura he suggests using broccoli, beets, spring onions and whole carrots among other suggestions. The tempura I made is very, very loosely based on the recipe from Plenty. I wont post my recipe and highlight the changes I made because I really didn’t follow his recipe at all, I just got my basic ideas of how to make the tempura. The main takeaways I got from his recipe are: Adding cardamom, dusting the vegetables with cornstarch before the dredge and using soda water in the batter. The soda water really threw me, I have no idea why it’s used.
So I bought leeks because Ottolenghi uses lots of leeks in his cooking, and while he didn’t use it for his tempura I thought if we were to share mine, he would appreciate the addition. By the time I actually made the tempura the leeks were 5 or so days old, but still felt firm so I went ahead and used them. I had wanted to make this dish for over a week now but either ended up going out to eat elsewhere, eating at work or when I finally was set to make tempura, we just bought some at the sushi place a few blocks from our house. Lame. With those leeks in the fridge I knew it had to be soon, so with a gloomy day (my favorite) I thought warm fried vegetables would be perfect.
I prepped my veggies by cutting them up into bigger sized chunks and then tossing them in a bowl with some cornstarch. I prepared the batter, heated the oil and blended my dipping sauce. While blending is awesome and you get a smooth sauce, next time I would mix it with a whisk instead. I think with so many different components your more likely to actually taste what it should be if everything is chopped and whisked rather than blended together. Next time.
Having fresh crispy tempura in the house was awesome, I just left some of the materials out and when we were ready for more I quickly fried up a couple more pieces. Luckily it’s not the simplest food to make so I wont be eating it all the time.