MIXED VEGETABLE TEMPURA

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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