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Recipe: Curried beer tempura grasshoppers

15 April 2016
Recipe: Curried beer tempura grasshoppers

People call grasshoppers the prawns of the sky! This is a play on that idea, and it's become one of the most popular dishes at Grub's pop-up restaurants. As well as being slightly shrimpy, grasshoppers have a gorgeous nutty flavour and this lightly curried tempura batter draws it out beautifully. Garnish with thinly sliced long red chillies and dip in sweet chilli sauce as a starter.

Serves 2-3 as a starter

  • 20 grasshoppers, legs and wings removed
  • A few splashes of light soy sauce

For the tempura batter

  • 100g white rice flour
  • 2tsp mild curry powder
  • Salt, a pinch
  • 150ml icy cold beer (freeze for 30 minutes before using)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 litre vegetable oil for deep-frying

To garnish

  • Long, thin red chillies, chopped
  • A few deep-fried Thai basil leaves

First, dry-roast the grasshoppers. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Coat the grasshoppers in the soy sauce then put them in a baking dish, cover with foil and roast in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes. Uncover for the last five minutes to make the grasshoppers dry and crispy. Allow to cool.

Make the tempura batter. Sift the rice flour and curry powder together then add the salt. In another bowl, beat the beer and egg together until smooth and pale (the idea is to beat the bubbles out of the beer). Once smooth, add this wet mixture to the dry mixture and whisk together. Take care when whisking, as you don't want to overwork the gluten in the flour. When mixed to a smooth batter it's ready. (A few small lumps are fine.)

Meanwhile, heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep saucepan to about 170ºC, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Coat the roasted grasshoppers, one by one, in the rice flour mixture then, using chopsticks or tongs, dip them into the batter. Carefully drop them into the hot oil and deep-fry for about 20 seconds on each side until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. The key to a good tempura is the cold beer batter plunging into the hot oil. The temperature change causes air bubbles in the batter to create more of a crunch when eaten.

Serve immediately, garnished with a few chopped chillies and deep-fried basil leaves, with sweet chilli sauce on the side if you like.

Recipe taken from Eat Grub by Shami Radia, Neil Whippey and Sebastian Holmes (reviewed here). Photography by Mowie Kay.

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