Tempura hake nuggets, mini baked potatoes and a veggie trio

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Instead of the same ol’ chicken drumsticks I’ve made for previous dinners, for the Valentine’s dinner I chose a fish recipe instead. After much deliberation I decided on hake nuggets in crispy tempura batter. I didn’t want a thick batter such as the one usually made with egg and flour, so I used self-raising flour and soda water instead.

After browsing various websites I learnt the following basics of tempura:

  • everything, even the flour, should be well chilled before coating and frying
  • the oil must be very hot and deep enough to cover the fish
  • fish must be defrosted before use (you can do this in a bowl of water)
  • expect a mess!

Here’s my batter, made of 1 cup self-raising flour and 400 ml chilled soda water:

I first dusted the thawed fish pieces with self-raising flour. When the oil was ready, I mixed up the batter and dipped the fish into it, immediately transferring the nuggets to the sizzling oil.

I was anxious to get all the pieces in the pot while the batter was still bubbly, so I ended up with a batter-and-oil-splotched kitchen within minutes. Thankfully my dear friend was standing by to help me mop up some of the mess! Anwyay, I fried all of the pieces at once, and drained them thoroughly on absorbent paper before serving them (on kitchen paper) with the rest of the main meal:

To make the tangy mayo, I thinned lite mayo with a little milk, then added paprika, salt and dried herbs to taste. (You could easily make endless variations on this, with hotsauce and other flavours.) The tempura batter absorbed a lot of oil, so it was good that we only had a few pieces each – that way it wasn’t too rich. The mayo was a great addition because the batter had no salt in it, but I’m sure salting the fish once fried and adding a squeeze of lemon juice would be just as fantastic.

The baked potatoes were also lovely and oh-so-easy to make. Wash and dry potatoes of a similar size. Rub them all over with butter (this makes the skin crispy; if you want soft skin, rub them with oil). Then sprinkle with salt and bake at 190 °C for 1 hour, turning once after the first 30 minutes.

I chose a ‘red’ veggie trio to stick with the Valentine’s theme of red and white. I sliced up some purple carrots, dished up some pickled beetroot, and put together some cute tomato hearts. The tomato hearts were a lucky find from The Inspiration Room on Facebook. Perfect for V-Day 🙂

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