If you’re one of those people who still believe that tempura is deep fried battered shrimp, well, you’d only be half-correct. Ebi (shrimp) tempura is only one variant of deep fried battered food in Japan. Just about any small piece of food can be cooked into tempura. Fish, vegetables and, yes, mushrooms.
Enoki tempura is one of the most common components of mixed tempura that you can order in a restaurant. Enoki was not among my favorite mushrooms so I never really gave enoki tempura much thought.
And, then… Hanoi. It was spring of 2019. We had a long and lazy lunch that I never in my wildest dreams imagined Carnivorous Me would enjoy. We were in a vegetarian rastaurant in Hanoi, you see. My daughter Sam and I. She ate no meat at the time, not even chicken, so there was this restaurant that came highly recommended by our landlord.
The place is called Uudamchay. Sam and I ordered at least four dishes which we shared. The most memorable (for me, at least) was the mixed vegetable and mushroom tempura. Oh, the batter was a dream! Light and crisp, and so thin that it’s hard to find crumbs that fall on the plate.
It’s been over four years since that lunch and I finally decided it was time to make enoki mushroom tempura. Sam is home for the long Halloween break, she loves tempura and… who doesn’t like tempura, right? So, I was going to make tempura for all four of us.
I started by prepping the enoki. The root ends where cut off and discarded, then, the mushrooms were pulled apart into small portions which were tossed lightly in potato starch.
To make the batter, an egg white was beaten until frothy, rice flour and a bit of salt were stirred in, ice was added and cold water was mixed in until a thin batter formed. To this thin batter, a tablespoon of aonori was folded in.
Each portion of enoki was then dipped in the batter. To keep the fried crust light and thin, and to coax the individual stems of the enoki to separate, the battered enoki was held with the caps pointing downward and shaken lightly before frying.
When frying the enoki tempura, fry only a few pieces at a time so that the mushroom stems can spread. I cooked four pieces for the first batch and that was too many. After realizing my mistake, for the subsequent batches, I just fried two pieces at a time and the result was so much batter.
Enoki mushroom tempura
- cooking oil for deep frying
- 1 200-gram pack fresh enoki mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- 1 egg white from a medium egg
- ½ cup rice flour
- 2 pinches salt
- 1 tablespoon aonori
- spicy mayo to serve
- Pour enough cooking oil in a frying pan or wok to reach a depth of at least three inches. Set on the stove over medium-low heat.
- Cut off the root ends of the enoki measuring about an inch from the bottom. Discard the roots.
- Pry the enoki mushrooms apart to separate them into bundles.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy.
- Stir in the rice flour until.
- Add a few pieces of ice.
- Pour in cold water slowly, stirring with the other hand, to form a thin batter.
- Fold in the aonori.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high.
- Dip each bundle of enoki in batter, shake off the excess and fry in hot oil, flipping after about half a minute, until golden and crisp.
- Frying only two to three pieces at a time (depending on the size of your pan), repeat until all the mushrooms have been battered and fried.
- Drain the enoki mushroom tempura and serve with spicy mayo for dipping.