Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tempura Salt & Pepper Watermelon

I haven't been very inspired of late, feeling pretty worn out and looking forward to a holiday next month and a bit of a break. Sometimes you just get in a rut of cooking the same old quick dinners. But, I did have a flash of inspiration today and decided to try making tempura watermelon. When I told the Beloved I would be making this he didn't seem very enthused, and thought it was a bit weird. Well, I am weird. How would any culinary masterpiece have ever been born if someone didn't make something that everyone else thought was weird?! To be honest I didn't know if it would work with such a high water content, but it did, I have a trick or two to share with you in how to make it work. Since making tempura mix from scratch never quite works for me I decided a packet option was probably best. While I was frying them the colour reminded me of crab sticks but without the terrible smell! Obviously they taste nothing like crab...

Approx 4 pieces per person of watermelon cut into thick fingers about 6-8cm long 
1 packet of tempura mix ( I used Trident, its vegan)
salt and pepper to your taste
Oil for deep frying

Cut the watermelon and leave on a tea towel to mop up excess liquid. Pat just before dunking to dry as much as possible, or the mix will not stick to the melon.
Make up the mix according to packet directions, but add water a little at a time to get a nice thick batter, too thin and it won't stick. I found the best consistency after trial and error was like pikelet batter, quite thick, but runs off the spoon like treacle rather than cream. Whisk in plenty of pepper and a bit of salt. 

Heat oil in a deep fryer or small deep saucepan at (I have a fryer but used a saucepan as easier to clean). If you use a saucepan the oil should be no less than 4cm deep and no more than a third deep of your pan - safety people!  If you are unsure about temperature I suggest dropping a little batter in to see how quickly it bubbles to the surface. If it turns golden in 30 seconds you're ready.

Dip the dried off watermelon into the batter and coat as much as possible (no need to be too picky) and drop into the oil quickly. Fry until golden and then remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with a little more sea salt and cracked black pepper.

If you find the pan spits it is probably because you have not patted the watermelon enough and there is water getting into your oil! therefore it is essential to work quickly so the watermelon doesn't seep again before you batter and fry.

We had ours tonight dipped into some lime mayonnaise, but they were good without it. You cna use soy mayonnaise or egg mayonnaise whisked with some lime juice to your taste. Serve with a side of fried rice.

I really like the sweetness of the watermelon with it's firm light texture,  and the crisp peppery batter. Don't knock it til you've tried it!