What is a slurry?
A slurry is a mix of liquid and starchy something. Paint can be a slurry, anything can be made to slurry, and that corn starch stuff that they use to thicken Chinese sauces? Americans call that a slurry. There are lots of slurries, and I have come up with a few of my own.
Slurry with the twinge on top, slurry with the tinge on top, slurry with the binge on top (beer batter), slurry with the singe on top, slurry with the hinge on top, slurry with the Kenji on top, with the ninja on top, and so on. Why? Because white flour is lousy for tempura and other crisp batters. Why? Because of gluten. That’s right, gluten is the friend of bread, but the enemy of crispness. Gluten is good for things too, because it binds stuff that other starches don’t. But your slurry should not have only flour in it to give it the slurriness.
Corn starch, wheat starch, rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starches, these are all non gluten, so you can formulate them with the flour to adjust the texture of batters and so forth. Most of them act more or less the same, but rice flour is weird and crumbly and it’s like it doesn’t really want to cook, and those rice noodles in the dim sum house all have other starches added to make them come out even though they don’t want to admit it. The great thing about rice flour is when you deep fry it, it stays pretty white, and if you’ve had tempura in Japanese restaurants, you may have noticed it’s not very brown.
Brown crusts is more of a western thing, Japanese like their fried stuff more white, like those Panko crumbs and there’s an old joke about that but I don’t want to offend any snowflakes, so I will not tell you the story of Chow Bok Choy unless you ask me somewhere else.
Okay, so we have the white stuff, what else do I put in my slurries? Egg whites. They hold things together that otherwise might just make a big mess, so I keep some dried egg whites around and shake a little in stuff, and dab it on my wounds and so forth. Tempura recipes always call for soda, which I think is kind of like a do nothing thing, but I drink plain soda, so I put it in my slurries now.
Baking soda and or baking powder go into my slurries, because they help with the crispness and bubbliness and all that kind of stuff too. Salt. Sometimes I put parsley in too, but that’s kind of my thing. So if you use all that stuff together, your batter is going to work.
The potatoes were deep fried at 275F until they floated, and then dropped into 400F oil to make them explode, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But if you dip them into the slurry between steps, they will always inflate, so, that’s a thing now.
or you can just dip them in starch and then the slurry and then deep fry all the way, and they won’t inflate, that’s okay. You can cool them off and fry them again. As long as you don’t cover them, they will even stay crisp in the oven for quite a while.
Inflated with cranberry Ranch.
these I cut into long strips, 1/4″ that’s more or less the French method for making pillow inflated potatoes without the slurry.
How to make this stuff
Here’s how it starts, and I put away the gram scale too, we will use volume.
2 heaping Tablespoons wheat flour
2 heaping Tablespoons wheat starch
2 heaping Tablespoons rice flour
0.5 Tablespoons dried egg white, or one egg white.
Baking powder a pinch, or baking soda half a pinch.
Salt, a little bit.
Club soda. A lot of people like beer, but I don’t and I think it does something weird with the batter, not sure what. Add enough soda to make the slurry a slurry. Like a third of a can. Not so thick like wallpaper paste, not so thin like, um, tempera paint–tempera, not tempura. Well, it has to be thick enough to stick and stay on. It’s a good idea to dip things in starch before putting them in the slurry, and the slurry should be thin enough to start to drain off when you hang it, we’re not making doughnuts here.
So, after you play with it a little, move the amounts of starches up and down a little, leave the flour more or less the same. Don’t put milk in there, don’t put egg yolks in there unless you plan on finishing with a dry breading, there is only so much I can cotton to.
Most of these pics were potatoes, but it works with onions, prawns and squid too. It also works if you want to roll the stuff in panko afterwards. It’s sticky, so I brushed a little on some steaks the other night before I seasoned them, that worked too. Any kind of vegetable tempura, works.