Baby artichokes, which have not yet developed a choke, can be eaten whole, but you can use pieces of larger artichokes in this dish as well. This preparation of tasty baby artichoke and shrimp tempuras is inspired by one of the most popular dishes at Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s international chain of Nobu restaurants — rock shrimp tempura — but you can use whatever shrimp you like. (For a list of sustainable shrimp choices, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website.)
Any dipping sauce that’s sweet, sour, salty and spicy will be a great foil for the tempura. Here’s a great one to try: Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce.
1/2 to 1 pound fresh baby artichokes or artichoke hearts (or substitute canned hearts)
1/2 to 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
Canola or peanut oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp potato or cornstarch
Salt, to taste
1 cup light beer (or sparkling water)
Garnish: minced chives and grated Parmesan
To prepare the baby artichokes, cut off the top quarter and slice the baby artichoke lengthwise into 4 sections. If using large artichoke hearts, cut them into quarters. If using canned artichokes, rinse and dry them thoroughly before battering.
When making tempura, it’s important to keep everything as cold as possible — you can even chill the flour in advance. Heat the frying oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and have everything prepped and ready when you begin to make the batter so that it will stay cold.
Fill a large bowl with ice water, then mix the batter in a smaller metal bowl set inside the larger bowl. Stir together the flour, starch and salt. Slowly pour in the beer while stirring gently. The batter will be thick and lumpy; do not over-mix.
Dip each piece of shrimp and artichoke into the batter and drop them quickly but carefully into the hot oil. The shrimp will be done in a couple of minutes; the artichokes will take about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the pieces with salt as you remove them from the oil. Garnish with chives and Parmesan. Serve hot with dipping sauce.
Photo by Tim Nauman Photography