I posted this about year ago but it is the season for a soft shell crab again and when I saw live soft shell crabs at the market, I had to get them. I was amazed at how my presentation of this dish is so similar to last year’s presentation. In any case, the only difference is that I tried a new tempura batter formula after seeing the America’s Test Kitchen episode on tempura.
They take a somewhat scientific approach to making tempura batter light and crispy. The idea here is not to let the gluten develop too much. The most common Japanese way of making tempura batter is to use cake flour or weak flour “hakurikiko” 薄力粉 in combination with potato starch or “katakuriko” 片栗粉, whole egg or egg yolk, ice cold water and do not over mix it. The America’s test kitchen’s method is to add “alcohol” in this mix to further prevent gluten formation and to use seltzer water (which many Western chefs have done for tempura batter). So I wanted to try this to see if it made any difference.
: Selzer water (non-sweetened, of course, 1 cup), Vodka (1 cup) and whole egg (one) mixed together.
Dry component: Cake flour (1 cup) and potato starch (1/4 cup). The original recipe calls for AP (all purpose) flour instead of cake flour.
Actually, my dry ingredients were proportionally much less for two crabs and 4 asparaguses. In addition I used only a portion of the liquid mixture to attain the desired consistency of the batter.
The result was a good nice light crust but we were not sure this was any better than my regular batter with or without eggs. Soft shell crab may not be ideal to test the tempura crust because the shell gets crispy even if you don’t use tempura batter. We will try again with a more appropriate food medium to assess the crust
. In any case, we love soft shell crab tempura and we have to make it at least once in the season.
Talking about the season, the iris were in full bloom in our garden. We were surprised when this pure white one appeared among all its purple cousins. My wife arranged it using a Japanese-style base with “kenzan