These beans are a favored finger food at the Inn at Little Washington. Long, thin French green beans are presented in a silver cup lined with a parchment paper cone. The fragrant dipping sauce is served on the side.
The club soda bubbles help keep the tempura light, so it's important not to make the batter until just before you're ready to use it. As with any good tempura, these beans must be served immediately after frying and should be cooked in small batches.
Make Ahead: The dipping sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance, but don't add the cilantro until just before serving.
- For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 7 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam)
- 2 tablespoons carrot, cut into very thin strips (julienne)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup cold water
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime (at least 2 tablespoons)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
- 2 medium jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced (3 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
- For the tempura
- 8 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for deep-frying
- 8 ounces slender French green beans
- 1 cup cake flour
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons very cold club soda
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce: Combine the vinegar, carrot, fish sauce, sugar, water, lime juice, garlic and jalapenos in a small bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, stir in the cilantro.
For the tempura: Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a large, heavy pot or deep-fryer. Line the counter or a platter with several layers of paper towels.
Use a knife to cut off the small tip of each bean.
When the oil is ready, use a fork to gently combine the flour and club soda in a medium bowl. The batter will appear slightly lumpy and will have the consistency of heavy cream. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.
One at a time, dip each green bean into the tempura batter and shake off any excess. Carefully drop each bean into the hot oil and fry for 1½ to 2 minutes, turning it with a slotted spoon until it is just golden and crisp. You can fry several beans at once, but don't add two at the same time, because they are likely to stick together.
Transfer the beans to the paper towels to drain. Season with salt and serve immediately, with the dipping sauce on the side.
From Patrick O'Connell, chef-proprietor of the Inn at Little Washington.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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