The second most frequently asked question I get in regards to this endeavor (after ‘How’s your poo?’) is ‘When are you going to make fritters?’ Well, the answer is: about an hour ago.
Kakiage is a sort of tempura fritter, dotted with a mishmash of things such as tiny prawns, shaved burdock, peas, carrots, and corn. At its best, it is pure crunch and flavor, the ingredients just barely held together by a thin coating of light, crispy batter. It is usually eaten with soba or udon. It is delicious, though I have never made it before. Turns out it’s very easy, too.
I prepared a tsuyu by heating up some flying fish dashi, mirin, and two kinds of soy sauce. I then mixed a can of corn with peas together with shredded ginger, julienned octopus jerky, chopped green beans, sliced spring onion, grated white carrot, and salt. I heated a panful of oil while I cooked some soba noodles, then rinsed them in cold water and tossed them with a spoonful of yuzu oil to prevent sticking. I made a simple tempura batter out of equal volumes plain flour and sparkling water and poured this onto the vegetables – just enough to coat – and mixed everything up.
I lowered spoonfuls of the kakiage mixture into the oil once it was nice and hot. I cooked each one for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown with darker brown bits where the vegetables were poking out. When the kakiage were done I drained them on a wire rack and seasoned them with sansho and salt, then made another batch.
To serve, I transferred the soba to plates and poured the hot, concentrated tsuyu into deep bowls. I served the kakiage on the side along with some sliced spring onions. The kakiage were full of flavor and super-crunchy, although some of the bigger ones were still gooey in the middle. Next time I will make them thinner and drain off excess batter to prevent this. The tsuyu was appropriately salty, sweet, and savory, and provided good seasoning for both the noodles and the fritters. When we’d eaten everything, I added hot water to the tsuyu and we enjoyed it as a broth. The residual yuzu oil from the noodles was surprisingly prominent, and it helped provide an uplifting finish to the meal. It was most satisfactory.