Yellow wax beans are so good as tempura especially the skinny ones, which lend themselves to a perfect crispy crunch. Thin green or purple beans are great here, too, or even a mix of whatever you have. Whichever beans you choose, this is a good recipe for thin, fresh, in-season beans. And if you have access to daikon, grate a bit and stir it into the dipping sauce. Daikon helps your body process the grease, and it adds a good spice to the sauce, too. Although Sprite might seem out of place here, pick up a bottle for the recipe. A friend of mine who worked the fry station at Nobu shared this secret with me, and I’ve never gone back to plain old seltzer. This method also works well with matchsticks of sweet potato or carrot. And while you have the batter, broccoli, onions, scallions, and thinly sliced zucchini can also be used for tempura. Making the batter and dipping sauce while the oil heats is a time-saver, but if you’re new to deep-frying and want to keep a close eye on the oil, feel free to make the batter and dipping sauce before you heat the oil.
- Yield: 10 to 12 nests
- Corn or vegetable oil, for frying
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups Sprite or plain seltzer
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 pound thin wax beans, haricot verts, or any thin tender bean, stem ends trimmed
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Optional: 2 tablespoons grated fresh daikon, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with 2 to 3 inches of oil. Set the pot over medium-high heat, cover it, and heat the oil until it registers between 350°F and 375°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, Sprite, and salt in a wide bowl, doing your best to create a fairly lump-free batter. Make the Dipping Sauce
- Combine the tamari, water, and sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to low to keep the sauce warm.
- When the oil comes up to temperature, grab a handful of beans and drop them into the batter. Use tongs to grab the beans all at once, shaking off any excess batter. Carefully slide the bunch into the hot oil and let it cook until the batter is golden, about 2 minutes. Flip the bunch and cook for 1 minute, taking care not to let it get too dark. Check the temperature of the oil, and increase the heat if it’s cooled a bit. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer the bunch to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining beans, making 8 to 10 nests in all. You can cook up to 3 nests at a time, depending on the width of the pot. Just be careful not to pack them in too tightly. And if the nests stick to the bottom of the pot, try to gently release them with a slotted spoon. Add a bit more oil for the next batch and bring it back up to temperature.
- Serve the nests with the dipping sauce and a little mountain of grated daikon and ginger on the side, if desired. Stir the daikon and ginger into the warm dipping sauce just before eating.