Do you ever watch other people's plates coming out the kitchen in restaurants? I do, it's my version of people-watching, but it often leads to heartbreak. It's worse if you've already ordered your meal and something better passes by your table - and you're left regretting your decision - but it's almost as hard when I see something that looks wonderful and full-of-gluten. Towering puff-pastry pies, still-bubbling lasagne, egg noodle salads, and any seafood in batter are sure to have me prodding my own meal with barely concealed disappointment.
Thankfully, this all-too-common food envy is a great inspiration for when I cook at home. This tempura prawn recipe started life as scampi and chips on my husband's plate that, in comparison to my sad looking chicken (no sauce) and boiled potatoes, looked like the best meal ever served. Since no-one really knows exactly what's in scampi, I changed things a bit when I came to make it. It's still deep-fried seafood, just a wee bit more refined.
If you have a deep-fat fryer, it's ideal for cooking your tempura; if you don't, though, (or you do, but there's a giant spider on it so you're too scared to use it) a heavy based saucepan with a couple of inches of oil in it will be fine. If your deep-fat fryer has been used for cooking gluten-y foods, then it's best to change the oil before cooking these to avoid the chance of cross-contamination.
Tempura Prawns (serves 4 as a starter, or 2 as a main course)
- 80g cornflour
- 150g rice flour (I used Dove's Farm Rice Flour) plus extra for coating
- ½ tsp baking powder (make sure it's gluten free)
- a pinch of salt
- 300ml-ish sparkling water
- 400g raw peeled prawns
- vegetable oil, for frying
- Whisk the cornflour, rice flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
- Add the sparkling water, a splash at a time, continually whisking until you have a batter that's the same consistency as double cream.
- Heat your deep-fat fryer, or pan of oil, to 190°C/375°F. Use a sugar thermometer, if you have one, in your pan of oil.
- Toss your prawns in a little rice flour to lightly coat then dip, one at a time, in the batter.
- Gently place (don't drop, unless you want third-degree burns) the batter-coated prawns into the hot oil. Don't overcrowd the pan as the temperature of the oil will drop if you put too many in at once, and you'll end up with anaemic tempura!
- Fry for 3-5 minutes turning if needed, until the batter is golden-brown and the tempura floats to the top of the oil.
- Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain of a sheet of kitchen paper while you fry the next batch.
Serve with sweet chilli sauce, or mix 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp gluten free tamari and ½ a finely chopped chilli to make a dipping sauce