The oil temperature is crucial when you make crispy deep-fried dishes such as tempura. It seems difficult to know the oil temperature without a special thermometer.However, you can check it easily by dropping a little batter into the oil:
a. Below 150℃ :
The batter sinks to the bottom of the pan and stays there.
b. Approx. 160℃ :
The batter sinks to the bottom of the pan and floats up rapidly to
the surface of the oil. Suitable for such vegetables as shiso
(green perilla), potatoes, and pumpkins.
c. Approx. 170℃ :
The batter sinks halfway to the bottom and floats up rapidly.
Suitable for Kakiage tempura (mixed vegetable and seafood
tempura) and Tonkatsu (pork cutlet).
d. Approx. 180℃ :
The batter doesn’t sink and disperse on the surface of the oil.
Suitable for seafood tempura such as shrimps and fishes.
Japanese cuisine should delight the eye as well as the taste buds. Take special care in selecting tableware and arranging the food. Try to vary the shapes, colors, and materials of your tableware according to what you serve, and try to bring forth a seasonal sense.
Having a specialty is a big help when organizing a dinner party. Plan the menu around a special dish, keeping in mind that the meal should flow smoothly from beginning to middle to end. Take care to distribute the five flavors evenly and to vary the seasoning and food temperature. The number of hot and cold foods should be balanced. Avoid using the same ingredients in different dishes. Don’t serve only strongly seasoned dishes or only lightly seasoned ones. If the menu contains only a small number or entrees, augment it by serving in place of plain rice several different prepared rice dishes or sushi.
Because Japanese cuisine developed in close relation to nature’s seasonally changing bounty, a sense for the season plays an important role in any Japanese meal. Mirror the time of year throughout the menu by generously including seasonal ingredients.
The phrase ichiju sansai, "Soup plus Three," describes the basic structure of a Japanese meal. In order words, a Japanese menu typically consists of soup and three entrees: a dish of fresh, uncooked fish, a grilled dish, and a simmered dish. Steamed or deep-fried dishes may be served in place of the grilled or simmered ones, or you can simply add them on to the basic menu of "Soup plus Three." Vinegared dishes or dressed salads can also be included as variations.