Enjoy Fragrant Spices with Clam and Spring Vegetable Kakiage Tempura Topped with Cumin Salt

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Spiced clam and spring vegetable kakiage

Yumiko Kozumi, a cookery researcher who owns a spice restaurant, recommends clam and spring vegetable kakiage tempura using fresh and stimulating spices that create an appetizing aroma.

Kozumi is greatly familiar with Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine and has a deep knowledge of spices. In addition to running the spice restaurant “yum-yum kade” in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, she holds cooking classes and events, energetically promoting the appeal of spices. She proposes using them not only in ethnic cuisine, but also Japanese and Western cuisine, and has written a book titled “Spice no Kanosei”(‘The possibility of spices’) from Asahiya Publishing Co.

“Spices change ordinary dishes and make dining more enjoyable. Let’s get spices at grocery stores and use them casually,” said Kozumi.

“The spices go surprisingly well with Japanese food,” she says about the kakiage. For the batter, she mixes fennel, which has a sweet aroma, and fresh coriander, which is also a standard spice in authentic ethnic cuisine. Using the seeds allows you to enjoy the texture and aroma even more.

“If you start with a small amount, you won’t make mistakes, and even if you combine several kinds of spices, it won’t taste too strong,” she said. Kakiage is usually served with tempura dipping sauce, but she recommends cumin salt instead. Roasting cumin seeds and grinding them enhances their aroma and makes it a versatile seasoning.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Cumin salt

Spring vegetables such as spring carrots are soft, so it is best to fry them just enough to change their color slightly to preserve their texture. First, eat them without dipping them in anything. The sweetness of the vegetables and the umami of the clams spread out, and the batter is crispy and light. Every once in a while, the coriander grains crackle, giving the dish a pungent aroma that wafts into your nose.

A pinch of cumin salt gives the dish a deep, spicy and bitter flavor. It is a deep fried dish, but not heavy, and it may be addicting.


Spiced clam and spring vegetable kakiage

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 20 clams with shells
  • 50 grams new onions
  • 30 grams spring carrots
  • 20 grams mitsuba wild parsley leaves
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 5 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/3 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • (For cumin salt)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • A pinch of red pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Make cumin salt. Roast the cumin seeds in a frying pan. When the cumin seeds become fragrant and change color, turn off the heat and transfer to a plate. Remove from heat and grind in a grinder (or using a mortar and pestle). Mix the powdered cumin seeds with red pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.

    2. Drain out sand from the clams. Steam them in a pan with a little water and deshell. Cut the new onions into 1-centimeter squares, spring carrots into 7-millimeters cubes and mitsuba wild parsley leaves into 2-centimeter lengths.

    3. In a bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of flour with rice flour, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, coarsely ground black pepper, turmeric and a pinch of salt, and gradually add 90 cc of cold water to make the batter.

    4. In another bowl, mix the clams and spring vegetables with 1 tablespoon of flour.

    5. Mix the batter with the clam and spring vegetable mix, then ladle the batter into the bowl and deep fry in oil at about 170 C.

    6. Arrange the kakiage tempura on a plate and garnish with the cumin salt.


    Use cumin salt within 1 week

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Try a salad of leftover mitsuba wild parsley leaves and fresh onions with lemon juice and a sprinkle of cumin salt.

    If any cumin salt is left over, seal it in a food storage container and use up within a week. Try a salad of leftover mitsuba wild parsley leaves and fresh onions with lemon juice and a sprinkle of cumin salt. Cumin salt also goes well with deep-fried shrimp, boiled eggs and potato salad. “Try it when you want something a little spicy,” Kozumi suggests.