Nagasaki meets New Orleans in these light, crispy, and delicious green beans. I know that starting this book with a recipe for tempura—a Japanese dish of deep-fried battered vegetables—is a bold choice, but I figured we’d jump right into the deep end. Frying can be tricky for a lot of people, and I offer general tips for doing it well on this page. Making tasty tempura is next-level frying that requires specific skills to get it right. To be clear, this technique requires practice—took me about a dozen or so times to feel like I nailed it. Follow these tips and you will be frying up crispy and delicious tempura at home in no time:
- Mix the batter right before frying your veggies, so the coating is light and crispy.
- Do not overmix the batter, or your tempura will be doughy. It’s fine if there are some lumps.
- Add cold, highly carbonated seltzer or sparkling water to the batter to give it airiness. I use our sparkling water machine to make some fresh right before mixing tempura batter.
I understand that a lot of people striving to maintain a healthy diet avoid fried foods altogether. I get it. I don’t eat them often. But I try to steer clear of extremes and instead walk the middle way of moderation, giving myself room to indulge every once in a while. You should, too. This recipe will comfortably feed four people if you are snacking on the green beans like you would popcorn. I imagine they could feed double that amount if served as nibbles at a summer party. Don’t be shy about dusting these with Creole seasoning and spraying them with skillet-charred lemon juice right before serving to really get the party buck jumping.
1 large lemon, halved
4 to 6 cups sunflower oil, for frying
1¼ cups cake flour
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon Creole Seasoning , plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chilled club soda
1 pound green beans, trimmed
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Place the lemon halves in the skillet, cut-side down, and cook until they are charred on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the lemon halves to a plate. Remove the skillet from the heat and wipe out any charred lemon bits.
Pour about 1 inch of sunflower oil into the skillet. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 375°F. Fill a large bowl one-third full with ice and water and set it nearby.
While the oil is heating, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, baking powder, Creole seasoning, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Add the club soda and 2 ice cubes to the flour mixture and gently stir with a spoon until the batter just comes together, being careful not to overmix (a few lumps are fine). Place the bowl of batter in the bowl of ice water to keep the batter cold.
Working in batches of 6 to 8, dip the green beans into the batter and let the excess drip off. Add them to the hot oil and fry, moving them around with a wire spider to ensure even cooking, until the batter just starts to turn light golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using the spider, transfer the beans to a paper towel—lined plate to drain. Place the plate in the oven to keep the green beans warm. Repeat to fry the remaining green beans.
To serve, arrange the green beans on a large platter, dust with Creole seasoning, and serve with the charred lemon halves.