Q: How do you go about preparing the tempura?
Tempura is a dish whereby the ingredients are fried as is; while there are plenty of things to be done right before frying, there is not so much initial preparation.
First, when making ayu tempura, I use fish measuring about 10 cm. It shouldn’t be too big because the whole fish is eaten, including the head. I always use fresh ayu, and there is no need to dress it. I just put it into ice before frying it and fry it as is.
That’s why the freshness factor is so important. When buying the fish, I look at the eyes and everything to check how fresh it is.
Q. What kind of fish are most suitable for making tempura?
A. Fish with blue backs tend to smell, so I don’t use them. It’s better to not use too much oil. Oily fish also smell, so I don’t think they’re suitable for tempura.
Sillago is an elegant white fish that makes for a standard tempura. Actually, this fish isn’t used for much else except tempura. Just like with ayu, I try to use small fish.
While small fish are not very useful for sushi and other Japanese dishes, it’s great for tempura because a whole fish can be fried and eaten easily.
I remove the scales and insides from the sillago and put it into ice water to maintain freshness. It can have a different taste if you put it into the refrigerator as well.
The size I use also changes slightly depending on the season.
In order to check the temperature of the oil and the state of the batter, I drop some batter in before frying.
I often check and adjust before frying the ingredients.
I put some flour on the back, stomach and fins, cover it in batter and fry it.
There is some air in the stomach; it faces up at first, but when the heat starts to enter the insides, it rolls on to the side. This means that the heat has passed through the insides. For it to be eaten from the head, it should be fried a little more.
Q: Are some ingredients more difficult to fry than others. Is there anything you are careful about?
It is difficult to find a big difference, but the sillago tends to get the biggest reactions from customers. People say that fresh white fish like sillago can be fried quickly, but this fish tends to have a lot of moisture, so it’s actually not delicious when you fry it quickly. You have to make sure you’re careful not too overfry or underfry it while making sure you’re getting rid of the moisture.
Customers have solid ideas of what sillago and shrimp tempura should taste like. It can be difficult to live up to or exceed those expectations.