For most home cooks, deep frying is reserved for that once a year Chanukah treat. It’s too greasy, fattening, and such a mess, right? Well, not exactly. As someone who hates kitchen clean up, I’m with you on the mess front (covering the nearby surfaces in foil helps!) but deep fried foods don’t have to be greasy and fattening if you fry them correctly! I love using tempura batter, because it’s light and crispy (flour + seltzer is my fave), and frying up good old fashioned vegetables is a less-guilty treat.
The biggest tip I could share is to use a deep fry thermometer. This ensures that your oil is at the correct temperature, and you’re less likely to end up with greasy or burnt food. If your heat is too low, your food will absorb the oil, take longer to crisp and you’ll end up with a greasy mess. Too high and it will burn while the food inside doesn’t cook through. So grab yourself a thermometer and let’s get fryin!
Here are some of my favorite foods to deep fry in tempura batter:
1. Chicken Tenders. Drench them in sweet sauce for traditional sweet and sour chicken.
2. White Fish Fillets. Serve with french fries and tartar sauce on some old newspaper for traditional fish and chips!
3. Oreos. Have your kids decorate these instead of donuts for an easy Chanukah party dessert!
4. Ice Cream. Hide some maraschino cherries in the center for a take on a jelly donut!
5. Pickles. Mix some horseradish into Russian dressing for a zesty dipping sauce.
6. Olives. Stuff with halloumi cheese for a fun appetizer.
7. Squash Blossoms. Stuff with herbed ricotta for a delicious filling.
8. Veggies. Asparagus, green beans, zucchini and cauliflower are favorites!
9. Salami slices. Mix some honey mustard with mayo for dipping!
10. Bananas. Serve with ice cream, a drizzle of peanut butter and honey roasted nuts, or make some banana Nutella egg rolls!
Looking for a quick and easy tempura batter? Here’s my little secret! Mix store-bought pancake mix with just enough milk or water to make a thick batter. Add a bit of sugar and cinnamon for sweet fillings or spices like Old Bay or Italian seasoning for savory fillings.