Tempura is surprisingly easy to make at home, and this recipe using king trumpet mushrooms (also called king oyster mushrooms; eringi in Japanese) rivals versions I’ve tasted in Japan. I was inspired to combine matcha (powdered green tea) and salt by the wonderful sake bar and izakaya Sakagura in New York, which sometimes serves it with puffy potato donuts. If you can’t find matcha or don’t like it, feel free to substitute finely ground black pepper, which is more traditional.
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon matcha
3 cups canola oil
1 cup cold seltzer
¾ cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces king trumpet mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise
Light soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar and sesame oil, optional, for serving
In a ramekin, combine the salt and matcha. Set aside.
Fill a medium pot with the canola oil (it should come up about halfway) and heat over medium.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the seltzer and flour until a thick batter forms. Dredge one of the mushroom pieces in the batter to use as a tester for the oil. The oil is ready for frying when the mushroom sizzles upon contact.
When the oil is hot, dredge the mushroom pieces in batter and carefully drop into the oil to fry, in batches of 3 or 4, flipping once, about 3–4 minutes per side. They will not turn a deep golden-brown, but the batter will be noticeably crisp when they are ready.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle generously with the matcha salt while still hot. Repeat with the rest of the mushrooms. Wait a few minutes for them to cool down before eating. Serve with a small bowl of equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar with a few drops of sesame oil and sprinkle with more matcha salt, if desired.
LUKE PYENSON is a food and travel writer, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer based in New York City. You can see examples of his work at www.lukepyenson.com.