|2 tbsp rice wine vinegar||2 eggplants, sliced into thin rounds|
|2 tbsp soy sauce||2-3 zucchini, cut into sticks 2½ in (6 cm) long and ½ in (1 cm) wide|
|1 tbsp olive oil||2 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped|
|1 tbsp granulated sugar||about 2 cups vegetable or sunflower oil for frying|
|1 garlic clove, finely grated||¾ cup all-purpose flour|
|2 fresh Thai or other red hot chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped||1 tbsp cornstarch|
|sea salt and freshly ground black pepper||¾ -1 cup ice water|
First, make the dipping sauce. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, oil, sugar, garlic, and chiles, and season with salt and pepper.
Once you have prepared all the vegetables, pour the oil into a wok, and heat until very hot but not smoking.
Meanwhile, make the batter. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and ¾ -1 cup ice water. Don't over-mix; it doesn't matter if the batter is a little lumpy.
Drop a little of the batter into the oil, to test whether the oil is hot enough-it should sizzle right away and become crisp. Dip the vegetable pieces one by one into the batter, and shake away the excess batter. Carefully add to the oil, a few at a time, and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, and keep warm on a baking sheet lined with paper towels until all the vegetables are cooked. Serve immediately with the chile dipping sauce.
For a perfectly crisp tempura coating, the oil needs to be very hot and the batter light, so don't overwhisk the batter or crowd the wok.
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