A variety of winter root vegetables makes a great vegetable tempura. Using a Korean frying mix and ice water makes it very crispy. This is a great way to consume lots of vegetables.
Every winter I miss one particular snack that I used to get as a child in Korea. Loaded with thinly sliced winter root vegetables, this deep-fried vegetables as known as vegetable tempura (yachae tuigim, 야채튀김 ) is a perfect winter snack.
My dilemma is that, can this be considered as healthy? Well, yes and no – depends on how you see it.
I would like to consider it to more of “yes” side. Root vegetables are packed in nutrients and fiber. No comments on that.
I added a little Korean twist on this wonderful winter root vegetable tempura. The thinly sliced vegetable with a thin batter makes it more crispy and crunchy. You can enjoy the nutritious root vegetables in the most delicious way.
This recipe is really simple. The hardest part is to slice each root vegetables very thinly. You can manually slice it or use mandolin to make the job easy.
Using a store-bought Korean frying mix (tuigim-garu or tempura) makes this recipe super simple and easy. If you can’t get the mix, use a mixture of cake flour, baking powder, and onion powder You will find the recipe below in the recipe card.
People have trained to think low-fat equals healthy, therefore deep-frying is the enemy of healthy body and mind.
Our body actually needs a good fat (from the right source of oil and fat) in our diet. Olive oil, grape seed oil, flax seed oil offers good balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These fats are heart healthy and reduce the risk of other diseases.
If you look at the U.S department Agriculture symbol of healthy diet (MyPyramid) chart, you will see a thin yellow strip among all the other colors. The yellow strip indicates healthy oil. People with 2,000 calorie diet have allowance of 2 tablespoon of oil daily.
Some research shows that deep-frying method retains more antioxidant than pan-fried in some vegetables. Eating vegetable raw is perhaps the best way to obtain all the nutrients of nature, but since we are not rabbits, we can’t always do that.
Root Vegetables for Deep-Frying
Here I am presenting a wonderful root vegetables, except the pumpkin, that are common in winter season. We mostly roast them to serve as a side dish, but I am going to deep-fry to eat as a snack. Choosing the right oil to deep-fry is critically important to get the best benefit.
Deep frying with good smoking point oil (at least 400ºF) such from peanut, safflower, sunflower, or coconut. Unlike the restaurant deep-fried food, which often use the same rancid oil for multiple frying, deep-frying at home will give a little peace of mind to consume great benefit of healthy oil.
A FACT TO REMEMBER: everything should be consumed in moderation, especially in deep-fried food. Even any food that is considered healthy, too much of it at once can cause a harm. So be reasonable and make a right judgement for your diet.
Grab a sharpest knife you own, or use a mandoline slicer if you are not comfortable using a knife to slice vegetables in 1/8-inch thin.
Slice potato thinly first and cut into matchsticks, about 1/8″ thick.
Same goes to his cousin, the sweet potato.
Rinse both potatoes in the water to remove their starch for a crisp texture.
It also prevent them from browning.
Drain and set aside.
Peel the parsnip and slice into matchsticks.
Same goes to pumpkin and carrot.
If you are a lucky mandolin slice owner, use the thinnest cut (1/8″) possible
Oh, don’t forget the onion. You absolutely need her in this recipe.
Put them all in a bowl, sprinkle some salt and toss well to mix them.
Here is the Korean frying mix (tuigim-garu or tempura) and cornstarch. If you cant get a frying mix, substitute with a mixture of cake flour, baking powder, and onion powder. (Recipe is in the recipe card below)
Get ice cold water.
Add the flour mix and cornstarch to the vegetables and add ice water.
Toss thoroughly to coat evenly. A tong is perfect tool for this job. Or use chopsticks.
You only need a little amount of batter for this recipe. They will work as a glue to hold the vegetables together.
Grab a small bunch of these vegetables with your tong.
Drop in hot oil. The oil should be 350ºF (170ºC) for the perfect deep fry.
It should only take about 1-2 minutes on each side to reach a golden perfect beauty.
If your cut is thicker, it will take longer of course.
Look at these lovely nests! Taste it! If not seasoned well enough for you, then sprinkle a little kosher or sea salt on top.
Crisp, crunch and soft at the same time, they are naturally sweet. I couldn’t get my hands off from these golden beauties.
My 8 year old boy, who wouldn’t take pumpkin or sweet potato, nor parsnip – he would rather skip the dessert for not eating the parsnip – ate 5 of these nests. With two thumbs up!
I think that says more than I need to say.
More Vegetable Snack Recipes
Deep-Fried Winter Vegetables (Vegetable Tempura)
- 1 medium potato sliced into 1/8-inch matchsticks
- 1 medium sweet potato sliced into 1/8-inch matchsticks
- 1 parsnip sliced into 1/8-inch matchsticks
- 1 carrot sliced into 1/8-inch matchsticks
- 9 oz pumpkin sliced into 1/8-inch matchsticks
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup Korean frying mix (tempura) See note below
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 5-6 tbsp ice cold water
- pinch kosher salt
- peanut oil or other oil for deep frying
- Combine all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and mix well.
- Add the Korean frying mix, cornstarch, and ice water, toss with a tong or chopsticks to coat evenly. Adjust amount of water for the batter to get slightly wet and vegetables stick together.
- Heat oil to 350ºF (175ºC). Grab a small bunch of vegetables with a tong or chopsticks and drop in the hot oil.
- Fry for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until it gets golden. It might take longer if your cut is thicker. Transfer them to a wire rack to rest.
- Sprinkle more salt on top if you desire. Serve immediately.