Fear of Frying by Michael Olson

Vegetable Tempura

Serves 4

Japanese tempura uses a simple but light batter to coat foods that are quickly fried and served with a soy-based dipping sauce. The technique was introduced by Portuguese Catholic sailors who observed eating fried fish four times a year (Quatro Temporo Anno) and the Japanese chefs took it to a new level. You can add shrimp to the mix but a good selection of vegetables brings a fresh, light touch to this as an appetizer around the kitchen island or as a lunch with salad.


1                        broccoli crown, cut into small florets

1                        green bell pepper, cut into batons

6                         brown or white mushrooms, sliced into 3s

1                        sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced

1                        small eggplant, trimmed and thinly sliced

1                        zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced

½                        Spanish onion, peeled and cut into thick slices


2                         eggs

2 cups                soda water or light beer (ice cold)

2 cups                 all purpose flour

blend together the eggs and soda water then stir in flour, do not over-mix


Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup            soy sauce

½ cup                        water

1 Tbsp                        sugar


Pre-heat the oil in the fryer to 350F and have kitchen tongs and a paper towel-lined tray for the finished items.

Lower the fryer basket into the oil and, a small batch at a time, coat the vegetables completely in the tempura batter and carefully add to the hot oil using kitchen tongs.

Fry to golden brown in colour, around 4 minutes, turning over once during cooking. Lift the basket to drain excess oil and then tip onto the paper towel-lined tray to absorb any excess.

Serve while piping hot with the dipping sauce.

Popcorn Shrimp

Serves 4 (as a snack)

Sometimes you get cravings not just for particular food but texture – now and again I want to satisfy this feeling with ‘spicy crunchy’ – basically something that is hot as hell and delivers an audible crunch as you enjoy it. These shrimp are treated like Buffalo wings but take a fraction of the time to cook.


400 g                        peeled and deveined 31/40 shrimp, defrosted, rinsed and patted dry

½ cup                        cornstarch

1 Tbsp                        ground black pepper

2 Tbsp                        hot sauce, Frank’s or something like it


½ cup                        plain yogurt

1 Tbsp                        fresh cilantro, washed and chopped

1 lemon            juice ½ and reserve remainder for garnish

(blend together the yogurt, cilantro and juice of ½ the lemon, season with salt to taste)


Pre-heat oil in fryer to 350 F.

Blend together the corn starch and black pepper in a bowl.

In two batches, dredge the shrimp through the corn starch mix, shake off excess and place into fryer basket, shake to again remove excess corn starch mix.

Cooking over two batches will prevent the oil from losing temperature.

Lower basket into oil and fry 3-4 minutes until golden brown and crisp. You can check doneness by cutting one open – it should be white and have lost the translucent look.

In a clean bowl, toss the cooked shrimp with the hot sauce to coat evenly (yes, you can add more if you wish).

Serve on a dish piping hot with the cool yogurt dipping sauce.