Literally translated as ‘small fish from the garden’ these unassuming delicacies have a bit of a world history. Portuguese missionaries traveling to Japan in the 16th century shared the practice of frying green beans in a light batter. The Japanese loved it so much that the practice became widespread and tempura (related to the Portuguese word tempero) became famous the world over. This recipe spreads the global reach of these ‘vegetable fish’ by using tapioca flour from Brazil. Tapioca is a gluten free flour made from casava and makes for an excellent alternative to wheat flour. The search for the perfect batter is a life-time quest and at the moment we think this one is the winner. Although this is a fried food, the wheat free flour and the fact we fry in olive oil makes it guilt free and a healthy starter or side dish.
200gr green beans or runner beans
1 cup of light olive oil for frying
For the batter
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of tapioca flour
2 tbsp water
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp turmeric
Pinch of Salt and white pepper
1. Cook the beans by gently steaming for 10-15 minutes. If using runner beans, cut in half longitudinally before cooking. Once cooked (beans should have a little texture and remain green – do not overcook) remove from steamer and put in an ice bath or run through cold water to avoid further cooking.
2. While the beans are cooking make the batter by mixing all the ingredients until a smooth texture is achieved (think double cream). Adjust quantity of water/flour as required.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, pat dry the beans with paper towels and fry by dipping two beans at a time in the batter, covering all over and gently frying for a minute or so on each side, taking care not to overcrowd the frying pan.
4. As the beans cook, remove from frying pan with a slotted spoon and rest on a plate with paper towels. Serve while warm. You can sprinkle a little of fleur du sel and freshly crushed black pepper for some extra kick!