Vegetable Tempura

Sometimes I set out to make a raw or vegan interpretation of a beloved cooked dish.  Something that will have quotation marks in the title.  Something that will be stretching the definition of the original quite far.  This is not one of those times.  This recipe just happened without me trying.  I bit into what was supposed to be zucchini fries, but the taste and especially the texture reminded me of something else.  After a few more bites and a bit of digging in my pre-vegan memories, I finally put my finger on it: tempura.

Tempura vegetables have that air of mystery similar to boxed chocolates.  “You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Sometimes even after biting I’m still not sure what I’m eating, but I know it’s good.  Japanese cuisine uses some vegetables I’m not very familiar with, like lotus root and bamboo shoots and unusual mushrooms or eggplant varieties.  Just about any vegetable tastes amazing: broccoli, carrot, green bean, squash, red pepper, cauliflower, beet, kale, asparagus, onion, etc.

Of course tempura is nothing without a dipping sauce.  Typically it is served with a simple soy-based sauce, maybe some ginger or daikon mixed in.  To make it a little more interesting I made an orange-ginger dipping sauce that turned out really well.

Vegetable Tempura

1 TBSP flax meal

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch of pepper

1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats

Vegetables of choice, chopped (I used carrots, green beans, zucchini, and mushrooms)

  1. Mix the flax with the water, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the salt and pepper and stir.
  3. Grind the buckwheat groats until they are fairly small, but not quite flour.  Pour onto a plate or shallow dish.
  4. Dip each vegetable into the flax mixture, into the buckwheat, then onto a mesh dehydrator tray.  You should be able to fill one tray completely.
  5. Dehydrate at 115 degrees 3 hours minimum.  The longer you dehydrate, the softer the inside will be.  The outside will by crispy but the inside will still be soft.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, bake them at 425 for about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately for best texture.  If you do have leftovers, you may need to re-crisp them in the dehydrator for about an hour.

Dipping Sauce

3 TBSP coconut aminos (or soy sauce, nama shoyu, tamari)

1 TBSP fresh squeezed orange juice

1/4 tsp ginger

Optional: diced scallion

  1. Simply stir it all together and dip away.

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