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Sweet Peach Tempura

A great variation on the traditional tempura recipe, and a great way to enjoy summer's fruit bounty. The recipe calls for peaches -- but you can use anything really: Apples, Pears, Nectarines, or bunches of blueberries or cherries. Sprinkled with powdered sugar, or drizzled with a runny honey - so easy and oh so good. Also works great with aged prunes -- totally melt in your mouth.

Critical to tempura success is using rice bran oil. Rice bran oil has a very high burn point - the higher the temperature, the less oil is absorbed. Also, much healthier than vegetable oil. Go to Rice Bran Oil page to learn more.

Tempura is easy, and everything comes out great -- as long as you stick to a few basic rules:
1. Use iced seltzer water. It helps prevent the batter from absorbing too much oil. You can also use iced beer or ginger ale - for a twist

2. Don't make the batter ahead of time. You may need to add more liquid as you work to keep the batter sufficiently liquid.

3. Adding sugar to the batter means quicker browning - so that the fruit does not over-cook. If using stone fruit, make sure the fruit is not over-ripe.

4. Use the right oil at the right temperature. We found rice bran oil to be the best choice. It has a high tolerance for heat, with no burning, and no perceptible flavor of its own. Also, don't let the temperature of the oil fall below 340-degrees. If the oil is not hot enough, the tempura will come out greasy.

This particular tempura recipe uses only rice flour. We like sweet rice flour, but you can also use wheat flour or ceci (chick pea) flour. We found that rice flour is lighter, more versatile, and gluten-free.

Ingredients:
4-6 cups of rice bran oil (for cooking)
2 egg whites
2 cups sweet rice flour (regular rice flour will work, as well)
1 cup iced seltzer water (or beer, is you have some on hand)
2 tablespoons fine cane sugar
A variety of fruit slices and berries. Be creative -- you can tempura just about anything.
powdered sugar or runny honey for topping or drizzling

Directions:
1. Put oil in deep fryer or large, heavy bottomed fry pan and heat to 350-degrees.

2. While oil is heating, in a medium mixing bowl, add flour to egg whites slowly, until egg is absorbed. The mixture should be dry and lumpy.

3. Add seltzer water to four mixture slowly until the batter is smooth and easy to stir. It should be thinner than pancake batter, but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add sugar and mix in gently.

4. Place the remaining cup of flour in a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge fruit slices or wedges in a small amount of rice flour, and then dip in tempura batter. Or coat berries in flour and dip into tempura batter. Using a slotted spoon, shake off excess batter, and place in hot oil. The berries should clump together naturally. Cook until golden brown on all sides -- about 1-2 minutes total. (Note that if you have used ginger ale or beer as the liquid, the tempura will brown more quickly.)

5. Place on a plate, and either sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with runny honey. And serve.

Enough to make 1.5 to 2 pounds of fruit.
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