Super Easy Tempura Batter

Last night I decided to experiment with some squid filets I bought frozen.

My plan is to eventually figure out how the Rusty Pelican made the battered calamari steak I had back in 1989 in Pacific Beach, San Diego. My friends and I were on our first “official” adult trip celebrating my dearest friends birthday. It was an eventful weekend with all the usual suspects. A gang of 19 year old girls set free, bottle of tequila, pseudo skinny dipping in the night waves-underwear still on, Marines at bonfire down yonder stealing clothes and waking up wrapped around the toilet covered in everyones bath towels. It also included a day at Sea World and some really good eats. Also, my first encounter with squid.

This is probably going to take me awhile. The texture of Rusty Duck’s battered calamari steak was utterly unique. Not had it anywhere else since. None the less I have had some pretty kick ass calamari over the years. In particular in SF. So, far no luck on my part. I have the flavor, but not the texture. Being that The Man is picky about the texture it was in his words, an utter failure. Didn’t help that I tried yet another recipe from Janet Fletcher’s Farmer’s Market.

I don’t know why, but I can’t get this cookbook to work for me. I spent yesterday afternoon reading it from cover to cover marking recipes I want to try again. I bought it when it first came to print in 1998 when I first started cooking. Beautiful photos and loads of vegetable recipes that sound great. But, no matter how many times I keep coming back to the book I am left scratching my head. The recipes just don’t deliver. And again this was the result with last nights recipe, Grilled zucchini with tomato and nicoisé olive salad. The zucchini was good, but the tomato olive salad clashed completely with it. Separately they work, but were nothing to write home about. Basically The Man took one bite and scraped it off his plate. That was a first. Not event the calamari got scraped away.

Luckily I thought this might be the case, at least with the calamari, so I prepared some tempura shrimps and veggies to make up the difference in the event of the meal being, “An utter failure.”


Battered Tempura

Tempura for breakfast!

Dig in!



I had a really good Tempura batter recipe a few years back, but lost it somewhere. I really don’t like the store bought packets, too much baking soda in them. The egg recipes I have found are too stodgy. I want the really fluffy and light Tempura. But, last night I found the perfect recipe submitted by mamaruby on


1 Cup flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

Cold water to cover the top of the flour mixture before stirring.


Mix it slowly with a fork. Don’t mix too much. It is okay of it has lumps. It is meant to look like a liquid paste. I did a half portion, but I think I had a bit more baking soda than recommended. However, if you add to much it will leave a bad flavor.

Dip your vegetables in the batter. Don’t worry of you don’t completely cover them. Then drop them into a deep fryer or in a sauce pan with hot cooking oil. You should have enough oil to cover the vegetables. However, last night I didn’t have a lot left. I managed to get it to work anyway. Just let them first brown on the one side then when they loosened from the bottom of the pan I flipped them. No problem just takes a bit more time.

I used asparagus spears, broccolli and King prawns. If you are using King prawns dry them before you batter them and wear gloves when you put them into the oil and take them out. The water in the shrimp will cause the oil to spit.

You can use almost any vegetable with Tempura. I particularly like sweet potatoes sliced thin.

Dip them in soy sauce or make yourself an actual Tempura dip sauce. This is my personal version.



Dashi-a must for Miso and Ramen Noodle Soups.

Tempura Dip Sauce


1/4 Cup soy sauce

1 TBS Rice vinegar

1 TBS Fish Sauce

1/4 Water (optional)

1 TBS Sugar

1/2 packet of Japanese Dashi, (optional) sometimes referred to as Bonito although if you want to make Raman Noodle or Miso soups this is a must.

Ginger grated if you want. Not a must.

Add all of this to a sauce pan and let it simmer for a few minutes. It is meant to be sweet and tangy with emphasis on the tangy. So adjust the ingredients to your liking. Use your the crumbs that fall off the vegetables as you fry them to test your sauce out.