Tempura green beans

Tempura green beans

Peixinhos da horta

By
From
Lisbon
Serves
4 as a starter
Photographer
Steven Joyce

The poetic Portuguese name for these crispy battered beans is ‘little fishes of the garden’, which I love. We think of tempura as being Japanese, but the technique and the word itself both have Portuguese roots, having travelled to Japan with missionaries and traders in the 16th century.

Sometimes, these are made with an egg batter, occasionally including beer or wine, and the beans are boiled before being fried. However, most of the cooks I know in Lisbon use a traditional tempura batter and soda water for a crunchier result. Raw beans keep the cooked batter crisp for longer and the beans don’t wilt in the hot oil.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200g long green beans, washed and trimmed
flavourless oil, for frying
85g plain flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
150-200ml ice-cold soda water or sparkling water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
4 tablespoons mayonnaise or tartare sauce, (optional)

Method

  1. Prepare the beans and heat the oil before mixing the batter ingredients, and make sure the soda or sparkling water is really cold.
  2. Place a large deep pan, wide enough for the beans, over a high heat and fill it with oil to a depth of about 9 cm. Heat the oil until it reaches about 180ºC on a pan thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, use the bread test: once the oil is shimmering, drop in a cube of day-old bread and if it browns in no less than 30 seconds, the oil is ready. (If it burns in that time, turn the heat down.) Line a plate with paper towel.
  3. When the oil is hot and the beans are prepared, lightly whisk together the flour, salt and 150 ml of the soda water in a bowl (it’s fine if some lumps of flour remain). Add more water if necessary, until the batter reaches the consistency of double cream. Working with 3–4 beans at a time, dunk them into the batter, ensuring they’re well coated, then carefully lower them into the hot oil. Cook for 30 seconds–1 minute, until the batter is pale gold and crunchy. Use a slotted spoon to lift out the beans and drain on the lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the beans, being sure not to crowd the pan.
  4. While the beans cook, stir the crushed garlic with the mayonnaise in a bowl.
  5. Serve the hot, crispy tempura with the garlic mayonnaise (or with tartare sauce, as is often done in Lisbon).
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