The Session #47 – Tempura Vegetables

This months Session is being hosted by Dave Jensen at Beer 47 and the topic is Cooking With Beer.

The SessionI’ll start by saying that I don’t really cook with beer that much, it always seems like such a waste of good beer. I can never bring myself to buy a crappy beer to cook with either, what’s the point? If I’m going to cook with the stuff, I want to cook with the best, but I’d rather drink the best, hence it’s a bit of a catch 22 and I end up drinking it all.

Recently, I’ve been using a botched batch of homebrew to cook with though, there’s about an inch and a half of yeast at the bottom of each bottle, so it’s not the nicest to drink. As it was supposed to be a clone of Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild, it’s got a solid malty backbone that’s worked very well in puff pastry wrapped veggie sausage mix, as part of a Sunday roast.

If I’d been organised I’d have cooked something with beer in it days ago and written it up, but I haven’t. I did think about dredging up a photo of the veggie sausage mix, but I thought I should really use the opportunity to do something new. I did think about doing a fake stake and ale pie, which I’ve never done before, with the ale being Newcastle Brown. I was given a couple of bottles for Christmas, but it’s such appalling crap, that I’ll save my taste buds and just keep it for use in slug traps during the summer.

I then remembered that my greatest cooking with beer triumph was probably some beer battered cod I did years ago when I was still eating fish. I’d managed to cook it perfectly, the batter was nice and crisp and the fish melted in the mouth, happy days. Also, using beer in batter is so easy, normally you’d use ice cold fizzy water, so ice cold fizzy beer is a simple replacement.

Since I don’t east fish any more (we need to stop raping our seas), I needed something else to batter, so my wife suggested doing tempura vegetables, which we haven’t made at home for what seems like years. But what beer to make the batter with? Something like the Newcastle Brown Ale would be too dark and besides as I’ve already said, it’s horrendous stuff. I needed something light and spritzy that wouldn’t darken the batter too much, but most importantly, something that I wouldn’t mind drinking along side the tempura.

I suddenly thought of using Adnams Spindrift, which at 4% ABV, is a light, spritzy, golden summery beer, made with East Anglian malted barley, Boadicea and First Gold hops and high grade malted wheat. It’s also very easy to get hold of round these parts, after all, you just need to head East for an hour or so and you hit Southwold.

All you need to do tempura veg is 200 grams of plain flour, 100 grams of corn flour and enough icy cold beer to mix with the flour until it’s the consistency of double cream. Then grab a load of vegetables; pepper, broccoli, carrot, courgette, aubergine, sweet potato, baby corn, mange tout, onion, whole spring onion, in fact you can use just about anything. Dip the veg into the batter, then deep fry until it’s golden and consume as quickly as possible.

To be honest, I don’t think using beer for tempura batter is the best use for your beer, especially a light a fruity number like Spindrift. Neither my wife nor I could detect any beery flavours in the batter, although I thought the beer actually went quite well as a pairing. It couldn’t quite wipe all the sweet chilli sauce from the mouth, bit it refreshed it enough so I got full benefit from the next mouthful. Maybe a stronger flavoured brown ale would have been a better choice after all, I just couldn’t bring myself to cook with crap beer…