This recipe is in no way shape or form French. Sorry! But, it is good – I promise that at least!
So here's my latest fusion offering: Japanese tempura served up alongside Baja style lime-cilantro marinated fish with Puerto Rican pickled red onions. Typically escabeche is a pickling marinade with cooked seafood added to it. But, I've used it for pickling the onions and the liquid as a dipping sauce for the green beans.
I've put together a short video (only 4 min) for the tempura. You've got to check it out because I found the cutest Moulinex Minuto deep fryer and I want to show it off! Seriously, I haven't been this excited about a new toy since I bought my first power blender in college. Tempura is super fast to prepare. It took 3 minutes to whip up the batter and 40 seconds to deep fry the green beans.
There are two basic types of tempura batter. One is thin and it works well for vegetables – especially for green beans where you want to see the color show through the batter. For fish I prefer the thicker batter, similar to a beignet batter, where the eggs are separated and the whites whipped up separately and folded back into the mix. This creates a big fluffy crunchy crust when deep fried that goes nice with jumbo prawns.
The fish is marinated in lime juice and cilantro for twenty minutes almost like ceviche but then it is baked or grilled to finish the cooking. I used cod because it looked fresh in the market, but mahi mahi would work better or even halibut. Any firm white fish will do that isn't too thin and doesn't fall apart easily.
The pink pickling marinade is a melange of cider vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves with a thinly sliced red onion left to soak up the juice. For real escabeche, cooked shrimp or seafood is then added and can be kept up to 2 days in the refrigerator. With the added seafood, it's a refreshing sweet-tart starter or light meal.
After draining the onions, the pickling liquid tasted so good that I decided to skip the traditional tempura dipping sauce and use it instead. Just in case you're not a vinegar fanatic like me, I've included the recipe for the Japanese dipping sauce below.
Green Bean Tempura
600g of green beans or haricot vert trimmed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup ice water
2 T soya sauce
1 T mirin sweetened sake
2 T dry white wine, sake, or rice vinegar
Peanut oil for deep fryer
1. Heat oil in deep fryer to 190˚C / 374˚C
2. Mix tempura batter ingredients together until smooth. It will be liquid like pancake batter.
3. Dip in green beans and they carefully put them into deep fryer without burning hands. Fry for 40 seconds.
4. Remove and let drain on a paper towel before serving
5. For the dipping sauce mix all ingredients together and serve alongside the beans in a bowl
800g firm white fish with no skin or bones
Juice of 5 limes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1. Mix salt, pepper, lime juice, ginger, shallot, and cilantro in a bowl. Pour over fish and let marinade at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove fish from marinade and bake fish at 200˚C / 400˚ F for 7 minutes or until firm.
Escabeche Pickling Liquid
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoons salt
10-12 pepper corns (I like to use various colors)
1 - 2 bay leaves
1 red onion sliced thin
1. Heat vinegar on medium heat and add sugar and salt. Simmer until sugar is disolved. Remove from heat and add peppercorns, bay leaf, and onions.
2. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.
3. Serve onions on top of fish and pickling liquid as a dipping sauce for the green bean tempura