Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed, for deep-frying
1/2 cup flour, plus more for dredging
2 egg yolks
24 or more vegetable pieces: slices of sweet potato or squash, strips of bell pepper, slices of onion, broccoli florets, as you like
Salt and black pepper
1 lemon, cut into quarters, optional
Soy sauce, optional
1. Heat two or three inches (more is better) of oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan. The oil is ready when it reaches 350 degrees, or when a pinch of flour sizzles immediately. Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup ice; let sit for a minute, then measure 1 cup water from this. Beat lightly with the flour and egg yolks; the batter should be lumpy.
2. Dredge the vegetables very lightly in the flour, tapping to remove excess. Then dip them in the batter and immediately put in the oil. You can cook 6 to 8 pieces at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, no more. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately, with lemon wedges and soy sauce if you like.
YIELD 4 servings