|Kakiage Don (drizzled with kabayaki sauce)|
Kakiage is a type of tempura where a mixture of vegetables (often onions, carrot and burdock) are cut into thin strips and tossed together in a light tempura batter, then deep-fried to form a loose cluster of vegetable fritters. I haven't had kakiage in a long time and was thrilled when I saw that my friend Nami had posted a recipe for it on her website, Just One Cookbook.
It was interesting to know that the batter used for kakiage is a slightly watery version of regular tempura batter. Also, one important step is to drain any excess batter from the vegetables before frying them. This is necessary to achieve a light and crisp texture without weighing down the vegetables with too much batter. I actually made this twice in a row (over two nights) as I had inadvertently omitted the sesame oil (in the frying oil) the first time. I added it the second night, which enhanced the flavour a little and gave it that "oiliness" you normally get from tempura. As for the vegetables, I used a mixture of onions, sweet potatoes, scallions, french beans, carrots and purple carrots. If you have never heard of purple carrots before, well neither had I until I spotted them in the supermarket last week and decided to give them a try. They are apparently the "original" carrots, from ancient Persia. Anyway, here's an article I found which talks about the purported health benefits of purple carrots, if you'd like to read about it. And now, back to kakiage.
Needless to say, the kakiage don was delicious! We used to order tempura don at Zenya in Eastwood and they used to serve it with this thick black sweet sauce, which G believed to be unagi kabayaki sauce. So, I made a small portion of the sauce and drizzled it over the kakiage don to give it extra yum! You can use bottled kabayaki sauce, but it's really easy to make it at home. I've included the recipe below.
|Kakiage Don (without kabayaki sauce)|
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
1/2 onion, thinly sliced and separated
2 inch carrot, julienned
2 inch Japanese sweet potato, julienned
8 french beans, topped and tailed, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 scallion, cut into 2 inch lengths
10 shrimps, marinated in sake for 10 minutes
2 Tbsp. corn starch to dust
Vegetable (canola) oil for deep frying
1-2 Tbsp. Sesame oil
2-3 servings of Japanese premium short grain rice
1 cup dashi stock (or use 1/2 tsp dashi-nomoto with 1 cup water)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. mirin
2 Tbsp. sake
2 tsp sugar
6 tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
100ml iced water
1 tsp sake
Pour sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 minutes and turn off the heat. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil to 180C (355F) in a wok. While oil is heating up, start preparing the batter. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine egg yolk with the iced water and sake. Add the sifted ingredients. Using chopsticks, mix around the bowl just 10 times in circular motion. The key here is not to produce gluten in the flour. The batter can be lumpy and should be slightly runnier than regular tempura batter. Leave a few ice cubes in the batter as it’s important to keep it icy cold at all times. When the cold batter hits the hot oil, it "explodes" and gives it the crispiness that is characteristic of good tempura.
Add the vegetables and shrimp into an empty bowl. Sprinkle with corn starch and coat the ingredients with chopsticks. Pour the batter over the ingredients and mix.
When oil is hot enough, take a scoop of the ingredients with a mesh sieve and let the excess batter drip off. Slowly slip the ingredients into oil. Keep the ingredients from separating and collect all the pieces into one big chunk with chopsticks. Deep fry until golden-brown. Drain excess oil on paper towel.
Reheat the sauce. Prepare rice in Donburi bowl and pour a little bit of the sauce over the warm rice. Keep the remaining sauce in a small serving container and pour on top of the kakiage when you are ready to eat. Drizzle with kabayaki sauce if using (recipe below).
Unagi Kabayaki Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
2 tbsp sugar
Bring the ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until it thickens to a syrupy consistency. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool. Drizzle over kakiage don before serving.