Lychee Tempura With Japanese Pepper Mayo – Recipe

Lychee tempura, with spicy mayo and black sea salt
Lychee tempura, with spicy mayo and black sea salt

This is the second in my series of amuse bouche based on fresh lychees. (Here is the first in the series). This one I fried using the small-batch tempura batter from Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking, and served it with a Togarashi-spiced mayo, black sea salt, and a slice of lemon.

One of the indelible dining experiences of my life involved tempura. A Japanese colleague and I were traveling in Tokyo for Adobe, and our local marketing guy took us to a little restaurant that served nothing but tempura. (Note to engineers everywhere: let the marketing guys take you to dinner.) It was a beautiful place, with no tables and just a ten-seat counter, run by a husband and wife. Nothing was in English, so being a vegetarian I would have never wandered in by myself for fear I wouldn’t have been able to communicate my needs.

Our host exchanged a few words with the chef and for the rest of the evening a magnificent series of tiny dishes was brought to us. Many courses were vegetarian anyhow, but when my friends had meat or fish, the chef would make me something special. It was the season for maitake mushrooms, which were especially delicious. There was no "tempura sauce", just sea salt touch each perfect bite to. And superb sake. I was really glad I wasn’t footing the bill.

Back to reality… my lychee bites pale in comparison to that reverie, but were still pretty tasty! Here’s the recipe:

Tempura Lychee with Togarashi Mayo
Serves 4 as an amuse bouche
Vegetarian; not vegan or gluten-free

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup neutral flavored vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup cold club soda or sparkling water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • a bit more flour for dredging
  • 1 tablespoon homemade or bought mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon shichimi (aka nanami) togarashi pepper (or to taste)
  • 6 fresh lychees, peeled, halved, and pitted
  • oil for frying
  • black sea salt
  • 4 thin wedges of lemon
  1. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk, then in succession, whisk in the vegetable oil, soda, and flour. Don’t overbeat. It shouldn’t be too thick, so if necessary thin with a bit more soda.
  2. In a very small pot, bring 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Don’t overheat or it will develop unpleasant flavors (and be a fire risk).
  3. Meanwhile mix the mayonnaise with the sansho pepper.
  4. Using chopsticks, dredge each half lychee in flour, then in the tempura batter, shaking off any excess, then into the oil.
  5. Fry until golden brown, turning if needed, then drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve immediately with a few grains of black sea salt, a half-teaspoon of the mayonnaise, and a small lemon wedge.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 in Appetizers, Experiments, Recipes.

8 Responses to “Lychee Tempura With Japanese Pepper Mayo – Recipe”

  1. August 9, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    What a splendid and inspired idea. Tempura-ed lychees? My mouth would indeed be happy.

  2. August 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

    These look fantastically simple and delicious. Yum.

  3. August 11, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    This sounds delish! ;)

    Hey, we have a contest over on our blog, you should check it out. ;)

  4. August 11, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    They look incredible. I saw the preview on Tastespotting and assumed that they were sweet.

    I guess they’d work just as well alongside Ice-cream, wouldn’t they?

  5. Michael Natkin
    August 11, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    I think that could work, definitely. Hold the mayo :). You might want to put a bit of sugar in the tempura batter then.

  6. August 13, 2008 at 7:07 am #

    We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if interested. Thanks :)

  7. October 3, 2008 at 4:57 am #

    This is fabulously creative! I’ve got some leftover (canned) lychees from a curry earlier on in the week. Going to make these tomorrow! Thanks so much for the inspiration. :)

  8. September 30, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    I found your blog while researching vegan amuse bouche recipes. My mind has just been blown with not one but three lychee recipes, brilliant!

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