There is something about the Japanese aesthetic which calms. So I'd like to say that it was with some hesitation that I destroyed the little Japanese garden I had just made on my plate.
The truth is that there was no hesitation. These little tempura tempters were gobbled up within 7.5 seconds of my camera going "click".
Happily, I was able to reconcile my appetite with the aesthetic by invoking Wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi, in terms of Japanese art and arrangements, is centered on the acceptance of transience. This view, rooted in Buddhist ideals, particularly values imperfection and incompleteness, and considers these qualities to be beautiful.
And it was beautiful. The oysters were delicious and, afterwards, looking at their empty shells, I saw the beauty of their transience - into my tummy!
One thing to note when making tempura, it's important to always use fresh oil as this affects the taste of the batter. I use sunflower when frying tempura as it has a high smoke point.
I used a batter recipe from the Japanese cookbook Yoshoku by Jane Lawson.
Tempura Oyster Recipe
A dozen fresh oysters, shucked
Tobiko for topping
325ml of iced water
1/4 cup of sifted potato or corn starch
3/4 cup of sifted flour
1/4 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of sea salt
2 cups of sunflower oil
- Shuck the oysters and have them ready to batter. Set aside.
- Mix about 2 tbs of kewpie mayonnaise with 1/4 tsp of wasabi. Set aside.
- Make the tempura batter just before you are ready to cook so it doesn't sit for too long.
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Test it by dropping a little batter in it. The batter will sizzle to the top when the oil is ready.
- To make the batter, place the iced water in a metal bowl. Add the sifted flours, baking powder and salt all at once. Mix the batter several times quickly but gently with some chopsticks. The batter will be lumpy but not thick in consistency.
- Dip the oysters into the batter and then lower them into the oil.
- Cook the oysters in batches for 50 to 60 seconds. Drain on a paper towel.
- Serve topped with tobiko and wasabi mayo for dipping.