Fried Green Beans (Peixinhos da Horta)

Japanese tempura is loved everywhere in the world. Even though the Japanese perfected these delicately fried vegetables, they didn’t originate it. The Portuguese did! In 1543, a ship heading for Macau was blown off course and ended up in Japan. The Portuguese sailors, known by the locals as “southern barbarians”, were the first Europeans to ever set foot on Japanese soil. The Japanese were in the middle of a civil war at the time so they began trading with the Portuguese for guns, ammunition, and other goods.

When the Portuguese were finally kicked-out of Japan in 1639, they left behind one lasting gift: the recipe for peixinhos da horta (fried green beans). Applying their own sensibilities, the Japanese replaced flour with the lighter corn starch and plain water with soda water in the batter, creating a lighter and crunchier way to deep-fry vegetables and seafood. Tempura was born.

Peixinhos da Horta – Fried Green Beans

Peixinhos da Horta – "Little fish from the garden" – these wonderfully crisp green beans earned their moniker by looking exactly like a stack of the fried sardines so popular in Portugal. They're really quite good as an appetizer, side dish, or even a snack.
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Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Portuguese
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large skillet, wok, or deep fryer
  • Microwave
  • Colander
  • Large bowl
  • Baking pan, wire baking rack
  • Whisk

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Green beans, trimmed
  • ¾ cup Corn or potato starch (or all-purpose flour)
  • ¾ cup Seltzer (sparkling water)
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp Black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat oven to lowest possible heat. Place a baking pan with wire rack on it in the oven.
  • Fill a bowl filled to ¾ with ice and water. Put green beans and ⅛ cup of salted water in a plastic freezer bag or microwave proof dish. Microwave beans on high for 2 minutes and then quickly drain and dump into ice water to halt cooking. Remove from water once cooled and drain. Put them on paper towels and pat completely dry.
  • Heat the oil to 350°F (175°C) in a deep fryer, wok, or large saucepan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and eggs to create a smooth batter. Throw around 12 beans in the batter and, with your hands, shake-off any loose batter and drop them in the oil. Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer beans to paper towels, salt lightly, and then put them on the rack in the oven to keep warm. Do process again until done, making sure the oil is at temperature before frying the next batch. Serve warm with some Yogurt Dip on the side.

Notes

  • Water in the batter is traditional, but the Japanese use of club soda instead makes for a lighter fried coating. Either way is fine.
  • A mix of cornstarch or potato starch and flour is fine.

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