Years ago my husband I were vacationing in Napa Valley and stayed at this great little B&B, La Residence Inn and in the afternoons in their beautiful courtyard they would serve light appetizers paired with great wines.
On one of the afternoons they served tempura vegetables with a dipping sauce. Every time I make this recipe it brings me back to that sunny, picturesque afternoon sipping wine with my husband and enjoying these tempura vegetables.
Tempura Vegetables with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce
Oil for frying
1 package tempura batter mix
1 bottle good quality beer or sparkling water kept ice cold
½ head cauliflower or brocolli, cut into bite size pieces
1 red or yellow onion, quartered with sections separated
1 large hand full of green beans, stems removed
1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder (divided)
1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin (divided)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot heat the oil to 350 degrees (never fill pot more than ½ way when deep-frying). Oil is ready when a cube of bread takes about 30 seconds to brown.
For the Dipping Sauce:
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice. Add 1 tablespoon of the chili powder, ½ tablespoon cumin, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the Tempura
Have sheet trays ready with paper towels ready for draining.
Pour the beer into a large bowl and add the tempura batter mix. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon chili powder and 1 tablespoon ground cumin. Whisk together until just combined. The tempura should be nice and thick with some small lumps.
Piece by piece, coat the vegetables with the batter and carefully drop into the oil. Fry in batches gently turning the vegetables until they are golden brown. As you transfer the vegetables from the oil to the paper towels, immediately season with salt.