Tempura Vegetables With Lemon-Soy Dipping Sauce

My parents got divorced when I was 7, and though my father was the better cook, my mother was the main cook, preparing our daily meals. Like most moms, she was always trying to find creative ways to get us to eat our vegetables. She’d push peas and carrots into mashed potatoes or pour cheese sauce over broccoli. This recipe—a foolproof way to make vegetables irresistible—reminds me of her efforts. And the fact that the veggies are deep-fried takes me back to one of my favorite places to eat as a kid in Nashville. Some Friday nights, as a treat, we’d go to Church’s Chicken, where I would absolutely devour the tempura-fried pineapple!I always say, “If you’re not in a good mood, the only thing to make is a reservation.” It’s an honor to cook and share food with our people. This recipe may be a labor of love, but be sure to put the emphasis on the love.Carla Hall (@carlaphall)Celebrity chef and author

Tempura Vegetables With Lemon-Soy Dipping Sauce Recipe
Photo: Caitlin Bensel
Hands On Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
6 serves


  • 1 quart vegetable oil

  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon

  • 1 scallion, chopped

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (plus more if necessary), divided

  • ¼ cup cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 cup cold sparkling water (plus more if necessary)

  • 1 8.8-oz. package precooked beets, sliced into ½-in. rounds and patted dry

  • red onion, cut into ½-in. wedges

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced into ¼-in. rounds

  • 1 ½ cups broccoli florets


  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat vegetable oil to 360°F in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium-high.

  2. Whisk ⅔ cup water, soy sauce, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and tarragon in a small bowl. Stir in scallion. Set aside.

  3. Combine ¼ cup flour, cornstarch, and ½ teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl or plate.

  4. Break up egg gently with chopsticks or a spoon in a medium bowl. Add cold sparkling water and stir to combine. Gently stir in remaining 1 cup flour and ½ teaspoon salt. (Do not overmix; batter will be slightly lumpy.)

  5. Using chopsticks or tongs, dip vegetables, 1 at a time, in cornstarch mixture, then shake off lightly and dip in egg mixture. Drop pieces into hot oil, adding no more than 5 or 6 at a time so oil temperature doesn’t lower too much (you’ll get a crispier result). Let vegetables cook, carefully flipping halfway through, until crispy and light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. After every other batch, check batter consistency; you may need to add about 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon cold sparkling water to get batter back to original consistency.

  6. Remove fried vegetables with a slotted spoon or spider; drain on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Place in oven to keep warm while repeating frying process with remaining vegetables. Serve hot with lemon-soy dipping sauce.

Chef's Notes

A candy thermometer clipped inside the pot makes deep-frying easier. Just adjust the burner to keep the oil at 360°F.

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