Crisp Sage Tempura

June 8, 2010

Yesterday, sitting in the almost sunshine and waiting for the little bus to bring Graham home from preschool, my thoughts went something like this.  “I need to write that post about the fried sage leaves.  Mmmm.  Fried sage leaves.  God, I hate making those things but they are so incredibly good.  I have all the ingredients on hand and of course I have tons of sage…  Wait a minute – where is my sage?”

It seems our little garden, seen in its infancy here, is just on the verge of exploding.  Now in its third summer, everything seems to be growing in bigger and more glorious than ever.  Or maybe it’s just the indecent amount of rain we have gotten this spring.  The way things are going, my poor sage is going to get trampled by other flashier plants and flowers.  Good thing we have several plants.

I have made these fried sage leaves several times and they are one of Randy’s all time favorite things.  As stated above, they are not one of my favorites to make but I sure love to eat them.  Frying is tricky for me.  Because I don’t do it all that often, I find it intimidating.  These are not deep-fried – I can literally count on one hand the number of times I have deep-fried – but still working with hot oil and batter makes me nervous.  Inevitably, I start when the oil is not quite hot enough and then end up with a few soggy leaves that need to be tossed.  This batter makes enough for plenty of leaves though and I even had to send Randy out in the rain to pick more.

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Crisp Sage Tempura
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes about 32

This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would keep well, but they do indeed keep overnight and retain their crunch.

½ cup rice flour
1½ tsp. poppy seeds
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup cold club soda
1 tbsp. cold water
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 bunch sage leaves (about 32), stems trimmed to ¼ inch

In a medium bowl, mix the rice flour with the poppy seeds, ½ tsp. salt and the pepper.  Whisk in the club soda and cold water.  Let the batter rest for 20 minutes.

Heat ½-inch of oil in a small skillet just until shimmering.  Holding each sage leaf by the stem, dip it into the batter to coat both sides.  Add the the oil and fry over moderately high heat until golden, about 30 seconds.  (DT: I turned each leaf over to make sure they were cooked on both sides.)  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  (Can be stored in an airtight container overnight.)


  1. This is the only way I like sage….I love it crispy in butter over pasta with walnuts, and as a snack like this!
    Great idea Miss Treat!

    Comment by stacey snacks — June 9, 2010 @ 12:17 am

  2. I don’t do much frying either…and no deep frying. Ever. Partly because I’m pretty sure I can’t be trusted around hot oil and partly because when I’m eating something deep fried..I prefer not to know that it has oil in it.

    These fried sage leaves look delicious. I’ve never thought to fry an herb before but I could see how fried sage could be particularly good.

    Comment by Joanne — June 9, 2010 @ 12:22 am

  3. Uhg, I hate to fry food too. I’m always so scared I’m going to splatter everywhere and burn myself. I’d get one of those cover things, but I know I’d barely ever use it. But I did do something similar to parsley before and it was pretty good.

    Comment by Jacqui — June 9, 2010 @ 1:02 am

  4. WOW. (dumbstruck by the beauty that is these glorious little treats)

    Comment by Cindy — June 9, 2010 @ 1:54 am

  5. Well thank you for sharing this, my goodness, sounds delicious! I’m working on a little herb garden myself, I’ll keep this one bookmarked for when the sage is ready.

    Comment by The Ordinary Vegetarian — June 9, 2010 @ 2:19 am

  6. An absolutely wonderful idea. I never would have thought of that, but why not? Sage is great in anything. Thanks for sharing this. I confess, too, that I get scared of frying. I took a class last year at PCC and the hot oil from a pan of Thai food popped and burnt my eye. Ouch!

    Comment by redmenace — June 9, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

  7. these could be seriously addicting…why haven’t i seen these before? how clever and evil all at once.

    Comment by vanillasugar — June 9, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

  8. […] Crisp Sage Tempura from Dana Treat. var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more'; […]

    Pingback by Web morsels | Fix Me A Snack — June 10, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  9. I’m with you, I’m not keen on the hot oil cooking either. I havent seen these before, they are so pretty and I totally trust your recommendation. Hope you have a great time in SF!

    Comment by Sara — June 10, 2010 @ 4:44 am

  10. I have been scared of frying since a kid when I dropped an onion into a deep fryer and out came oil (all over my hand), BUT I am positive these would totally be worth it. Maybe I’ll wear gloves ;)

    Comment by fresh365 — June 10, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

  11. I can see why Randy loves these!

    Comment by Ashley — June 18, 2010 @ 12:49 am

  12. […] We have a beautiful patch of Berggarten sage in our garden. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a sage themed cocktail hour and serve vodka sage suckers and tempura sage leaves? […]

    Pingback by Grow.Cook.Eat July 2 | DigginFood — July 2, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

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