Heaven-And-Earth Tempura Cakes

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1/2 red onion, cut into thin slices through the stem end to make crescent shapes (about 1/3 cup)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Scant 1/3 cup julienne-cut carrot peels (1-inch strips; about 3 ounces)

Scant 1/3 cup julienne-cut Japanese-style sweet potato or other sweet potato peels (1-inch strips; about 2 1/2 ounces)

3-ounce chunk bitter melon, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, very thinly sliced, salted with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and drained, about 1/4 cup

2 small zucchini, about 4 ounces total weight, tops trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut on the diagonal into thin slices, about 2/3 cup

Scant 1/3 cup julienne-cut kabocha squash peels (3/4-inch strips; about 3 ounces)

2 tablespoons finely shredded summer herbs such as fresh shiso leaves

4 or 5 fresh chives, cut into 1/2-inch lengths

Several ice cubes

1/3 cup cold water

1/4 cup self-rising cake flour

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

1 to 2 teaspoons aromatic sesame oil (optional)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Generous pinch of kona-zanshõ

Generous pinch of tõgarashi

Generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Lemon or lime wedges

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