Tempura nuggets (Satsuma-age)

  (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Tempura nuggets (satsuma-age)



Total time: About 1 hour

Servings: 4

Note: You can use a variety of vegetables for making satsuma-age: minced burdock; cooked sweet potato; lotus root; chopped shiso leaves; chopped onions; hydrated, chopped dried shiitake mushrooms. Keep the vegetables to half the weight of the fish paste. Potato starch is available at well-stocked grocery stores as well as at Asian markets. Fresh yuzu are available at select Japanese markets when in season. Sudachi is available at most Japanese and Korean markets when in season.

1 1/2 tablespoons potato starch (katakuriko) or cornstarch

1 tablespoon sake

8 ounces skinless and boneless black cod fillet (you can also use mahi-mahi, haddock, scrod, halibut, flounder, sardines or mackerel), cut into 1-inch pieces

6 ounces shrimp, shelled and deveined (about 10 medium shrimp), cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1 egg white

2 teaspoons grated ginger, plus extra for garnish, divided

Ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 green onion, white part only, minced

1 medium carrot, peeled and minced

1/2 cup shelled edamame

Vegetable oil for frying (about 4 cups)

2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil, optional

Yuzu, sudachi, lime or lemon wedges, for garnish

Finely grated daikon radish, for garnish

1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve the potato starch in 1 tablespoon water and the sake.

2. In a food processor, grind the fish and shrimp to a paste. Add the sugar, dissolved starch mixture, egg white, grated ginger, a pinch of pepper and the salt. Process until smooth. Transfer the paste to a medium bowl.

3. Stir in the minced onion, carrot and the edamame and mix. The paste can be made up to this point and refrigerated, covered, for up to several hours.

4. In a deep, heavy-bottom saucepan, add enough oil so it comes at least 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Add the optional sesame oil for a more aromatic flavor. Heat oil to 275 degrees. Keep the oil temperature at 250 to 275 degrees; if you fry at a temperature higher than 275 degrees, the fish balls will brown too quickly, remaining raw in the center.

5. Set the bowl of fish paste in an ice bath to keep it chilled. Prepare a small bowl of water for wetting your hands to prevent sticking. Make little nuggets or balls, using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of fish paste. You should have about 16 balls. You can also make other shapes, such as patties.

6. Drop about three fish balls in the hot oil and deep fry until golden and puffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Test the doneness by slicing one in half to make sure it is cooked in the middle.

7. Drain the fish balls on newspaper and paper towels, and repeat until all are fried. They will deflate slightly upon cooling. Serve hot or at room temperature with grated ginger and garnishes. They're best eaten while hot. You can put them on the grill or reheat them in the oven. They also freeze well.

Each serving: 272 calories; 21 grams protein; 11 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 15 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 86 mg. cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 417 mg. sodium.