Tempura is one of those meals I don't make very often because I don't enjoy frying all that much (and also because, well, it's not very healthy). But during the quarantine, I got a hankering for tempura, which doesn't deliver well (it loses its crispiness in transport), so I dug up the old recipe on the site and made some shrimp tempura. That was when I realized the old recipe doesn't actually have directions, so I've updated the recipe below.
Gluten-Free Tempura Batter
2 cups rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold carbonated water
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl. Add the carbonated water and whisk until smooth.
Note: The batter makes enough to serve about six people. Use whatever vegetable or protein you like. I've had steak tempura (the meat was about a 1-inch cube), as well as banana tempura with chocolate sauce. Traditional tempura usually includes shrimp, sweet potato, and kabocha (Japanese pumpkin).
Cut the vegetables and/or protein into appropriate pieces. (It's traditional to leave the tail on shrimp, but when I saw that I would have to scrape off scales from each tail, I opted to remove them. I apparently didn't split them properly since they curled a lot, as you can see in the picture, but they were still delicious.) Vegetables are usually sliced into disks or moons, or cut or bundled into spears (as with carrots, asparagus, and green beans).
Fill a medium to large pot with 48 ounces of canola or vegetable oil and heat to 360 degrees. (I highly recommend a candy thermometer to track the temperature of the oil, but the traditional Japanese way is to put a plain wooden chopstick in the oil - if bubbles form around the chopstick, the oil is hot enough.)
I use chopsticks to dip ingredients into the batter and transfer them to the oil, but you can use tongs or a spider. Don't crowd the pan, and cook each piece until it floats to the surface and is golden brown, flipping over once to ensure both sides are cooked. Each batch will take about four minutes.
As each piece finishes cooking, remove it from the oil and drain on a wire rack or paper towels (pictured above). You may have to wait between batches for the oil to return to 360 degrees. (Cooking in oil that's too cold will make the tempura greasy instead of crispy.)
1 cup dashi (bonito flake stock; it's readily found in the Asian section of supermarkets)
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine; try to find hon-mirin and avoid the artificial kind that's readily available - this is the kind I get at Ralphs)
4 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (I'm partial to Trader Joe's brand)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat through.
If you use gluten-free dashi and gluten-free soy sauce, your entire meal will be gluten-free.
Here's a pic of the shrimp cooking in the oil: