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Tempura Fennel & Kohlrabi with Asian Dipping Sauce

There are such beautiful vegetables in season at the moment. The kind of veggies we can utilize from root to tip. Fennel bulbs have been getting their fair share of attention. Braised, roasted, pureed, thinly sliced in salads and served mostly with poultry and fish. Fennel, also known as finocchio or sweet fennel is actually a flowering plant species from the celery family. The herbs are edible and so are the flowers. Raw fennel bulb has a crisp texture and has a fresh rather pungent aniseed flavour. When cooked, it is softer and takes on a more mellow flavour.

Then there's kohlrabi – a German turnip or turnip cabbage. A tuberous vegetable of the Brassica family with the likes of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Kale and Brussels sprouts. It has a similar taste of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart but milder, somewhat sweeter and less vegetal. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked - treated a similar way to fennel bulbs. The leaves are also edible and can be eaten raw in salads, steamed or sautéed.

Babel restaurant prepares beautiful raw vegetable salads including thinly sliced beetroot, butternut, fennel bulbs, kohlrabi and a variety of leaves and herbs. It truly is delicious. Earthy, crisp, fresh and even tastes a bit like sunshine. 
Juicing is also a good option to enjoy the benefits of natural vegetable goodness. The amount of antioxidants, phytochemicals and flavonoids present in raw vegetables is unreal. It’s time to get back to our "roots" and eat raw!

{Crisp Fennel and kohlrabi salad in a light lemon vinaigrette}

And for a naughty treat, we coated thinly sliced fennel and kohlrabi bulbs in tempura batter and deep fried until golden and crispy. Served with an Asian dipping sauce. Delish!

It was so good, we thought we'd share the recipe!

Tempura Fennel Bulb & Kohlrabi with Asian Dipping Sauce

Serves: 6

2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced with mandolin
3 Kohlrabi bulbs, thinly sliced with mandolin
Juice of 1 lemon
Tempura batter:
1 egg
500 ml ice cold soda water
150 g cake flour
250 g corn flour
Asian dipping sauce (makes 200 ml):
150 ml fish sauce
150 ml fresh lime juice
75 ml brown sugar
75 ml water
5 red chillies, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Batter: Combine egg in a mixing bowl with soda water. Add sifted flour and corn flour. Whisk until just combined. Should still be a bit lumpy. Refrigerate until needed. Batter must be as cold as possible before using.
Dipping sauce: Mix all ingredients together and place into a small pot. Reduce over moderate heat until slightly thickened and good flavour has developed (+- 5-10 minutes).
Heat a large pot of oil for deep frying.
Toss the sliced veggies in lemon juice then generously coat with batter, place into hot oil (not all at once or they will stick together and make the oil cold) and fry until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel.
Serve tempura veggies immediately with dipping sauce. Serve with extra lime wedges.

We got our fennel bulbs from Pick n Pay and the kohlrabi from Woolworths.

To see what cookery courses and demos we have on offer for June month, click here!

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