As much I like them, I’ve never been really good with deep fried items. One of my favorite items when I was growing up was the shanghai cuisine item “tai tiao huang yu” – aonori battered deep fried fish. Over the years, I’ve always gotten a queasy stomach after having one too many pieces of deep fried items. During an omakase meal on Matsuhisa, LA on 16 June 2007, one of my courses was a tempura sampler –
Tempura Kisu ("Smelt"), new caledonian ebi, ika 'steak' hamo, uni with lemon juice, uni/shiso, anago with curry powder and salt; ponzu with daikon, salt, karashi, lemon juice
I was a little nervous when I started eating the tempura – waiting for the onset of queasiness. It never happened. I asked the omakase room chefs (and in particular, Kuri-san) why I was able to eat the tempura without problems. Kuri-san chuckled and told me that they used rice oil (kome abura). Since then it’s become my oil of choice when frying unless a recipe specifically calls for something else. It’s light and mild/neutral in flavor with a high smoke point.