Thai Tempura

Tinned Smoked Oysters with Hot Pepper
Brad Wenner / Getty Images
  • 13 mins
  • Prep: 8 mins,
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: around 12 servings

This Thai version of tempura features oysters in a crispy batter with crunchy vegetables. In Thailand, "Hoi Tod" is made several ways - either as a fried pancake or as a kind of tempura (as in this recipe). And it can be made with either mussel or oyster meat. For this recipe, I used oysters since they're easier to find already cooked and smoked (in the tin). New Zealand green "Kiwi" mussels will work too. This easy dish makes an excellent appetizer, snack, or main entree.

What You'll Need

  • 12 cooked mussels (such as New Zealand Green "Kiwi" Mussels or 1 can smoked oysters)
  • 1 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 3 scallions (sliced)
  • 1 bell pepper (red, de-seeded and chopped into small pieces)
  • Optional: 1 red or green chili, minced (omit if you want your tempura mild)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (such as canola, for frying)
  • Optional: 1 medium or large tomato (chopped into small pieces)
  • Tempura Batter:
  • 1/2 cup flour (for a healthier batter, you can use spelt or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup  corn starch
  • 1/2 cup rice flour (or tapioca flour. Note: if you don't have these flours, simply use equal parts corn starch & regular flour)
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup water (cool or cold)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tbsp.​ fish sauce (or more to taste)
  • Garnish: handful of fresh  coriander,  Thai Sweet Chili Sauce or regular chili sauce

How to Make It

  1. First, prepare the oysters or mussels. Rinse and remove mussels from shells or drain the oysters. Place next to the stove.
  2. Prepare the vegetables and also place them next to the stove.
  3. Now prepare the tempura batter. Stir the flours, baking powder, and sugar together. Then add the water, eggs, and fish sauce. Stir until smooth. (If necessary, use a whisk to get rid of any lumps.)
  4. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Oil is usually ready to use when bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pan.To make sure oil is hot enough, dip your spoon in the batter and drop a little into the oil. If the batter sizzles and cooks, the oil is ready.
  1. Once the oil is hot enough, you can turn the heat down to medium (or around #6 on the dial). Don't overheat the oil, or it will splatter.
  2. Now ladle some of the tempura batter into the oil. You can make your tempura "pankcakes" as large or small as you like, depending on how much batter you use at one time.
  3. Immediately, while your first tempura pancake cooks, drop a few oysters (or mussel meat) into it. Also sprinkle on some of the vegetables - bean sprouts, red pepper, green onion, plus chili and tomato (if using). Try to spread these ingredients out over the surface of the pancake.
  4. Allow to fry 30 seconds or so. When the pancake begins to look crusty around the outside, it's time to flip it. Using a spatula (or "egg flipper"), turn the tempura pancake over in the oil to cook the other side. Do this carefully so the oil doesn't splatter. (The ingredients you just added will stay in the pancake.)
  5. The pancake is done when both sides are light golden brown. Remove pancake from the oil and leave to drain on an absorbant kitchen towel or paper towel.
  6. Repeat until all the batter and other ingredients are used up.
  7. Place the pancakes on a plate (on a bed of lettuce, if you want to make this dish look extra special). Sprinkle fresh coriander over, and serve while hot with Thai sweet chili sauce, or regular chili sauce.