In the South, we have an affinity for most things fried – chicken, catfish, okra, pickles, green tomatoes and even sushi. There’s no denying the pleasure of a sushi roll that is coated in crispy tempura bits or one that contains a perfectly fried piece. Entire sushi rolls can be also be dipped in tempura batter then fried for an overall delightful crunch.
The basis of any tempura sushi roll is a good tempura batter. The tempura recipe that I use for sushi rolls is classic and very simple. Many Americanized tempura batters incorporate baking soda, cornstarch and seltzer water to change the would be thin batter to one that yields a puffy, more evenly distributed batter. This recipe uses a classic ratio of 1:1:1 of just three ingredients –egg, flour, ice water. This uncomplicated recipe yields tempura that is delicate and lacy. Because the batter contains ice, it is essential to prepare the batter just minutes before use to ensure that it doesn’t become too watery.
Classic Tempura Batter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup ice water + a few ice cubes
Just before use, Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until just incorporated. Chopsticks are quite good for this purpose. A few lumps are okay.
– Fry vegetable tempura items at 340 degrees F. For seafood tempura items and entire sushi rolls, increase temperature to 350 degrees F.
– Prepare items for frying by lightly dredging in potato or rice starch before dipping in tempura batter. Flour also works for this purpose.
– Fry tempura in small batches in a pan rather than using a deep fryer for optimal crispiness.
– Serve tempura items immediately.
Tempura for Crunchy Rolls
To make tenkasu, the crispy tempura flakes that coat the outside of crunchy sushi rolls, heat about 1/2 inch of oil suitable for frying in a heavy bottomed pan to 340 degrees F. Drizzle prepared tempura batter over the tines of a fork, being careful not to drop ice cubes in hot oil. Stir the batter as it fries a couple of times with chopsticks or a spoon. Allow to fry until lightly golden, about 2 – 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon or mesh fryer screen and drain on paper towels. Cool completely before coating the outsides of sushi rolls. One recipe of tempura batter makes enough tenkasu (tempura crispies) to coat the outsides of 6-8 sushi rolls.
Tempura Sushi Rolls (Entire roll fried)
For best results, use thin sushi rolls. Prepare thin rolls and cut in half, rather than cutting into 6 pieces. Allow rolls to set in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes. Dredge pieces in potato or rice starch before dipping in tempura batter. Fry the rolls in about 1 inch oil heated to 350 degrees F until coating is crispy and golden, about 3 minutes. If necessary, turn rolls so that they fry evenly. Remove rolls from oil and cut each into 3-4 pieces. Serve immediately.
Tempura Sushi Rolls to Try: