Japanese cuisine offers many distinct, delicious dishes, which set it apart from traditional European cuisine. Sushi, pasta and seafood are just some of the dishes, which enjoy great popularity worldwide. Tempura is yet another tremendously popular dish. How to make it at home?

History of tempura

Tempura’s history is a long one, for it can be traced back to the 16th century. It made its way to Japan with Jesuit missionaries who came to the country from Portugal in the 16th century. They would consume the dish on Ember Days (Quatuor Tempora in Latin) – hence the name “tempura”. The japanese took a liking to the recipe and the flavour. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to make it a fixed part of their menu. The Japanese elevated making tempura to an art form – that is why the dish came to be associated with Japan and not Portugal. The modern Japanese tempura recipe is based on the cooking methods developed during the Edo period.

What is tempura?

Almost anything goes as far as tempura is concerned. The most popular ingredients are pieces of vegetables, seafood or meat in distinct, thin and delicate batter, which are then deep fried. The batter is the most important part here, it is crunchy and light, and goes well with almost any dish. Tempura is usually served with tentsuyu sauce (made with dashi, soy sauce and mirin), which serves to bring out the dish’s unique taste.

Where can you eat good tempura?

In Japan, there are places, which specialise in serving tempura. Just like sushi, this dish also has its masters. Tempura-ya-san, tempura specialists, serve the dish in restaurants called tempura-ya. When you order tempura at a place like that, the chef first serves you sauce and white raddish called daikon. The visitors can watch their tempura being made and have it brought to them the moment the hot pieces are ready.

How to make tempura batter?

The delicate and crispy batter requires a special recipe. It can be compared to crepe batter but thicker. The batter needs to be mixed quickly – it should form lumps, which will be fried later. There are two types of batter, depending on the dish. The batter used for fish, vegetables and shellfish is thinner, while the batter used for seafood and fatty fish is thicker.

How to make tempura in 6 steps:

1. The first thing you need is ice-cold water.

2. Mix half a cup of corn flour and half a cup of wheat flour with it until the batter resembles thick cream.

3. Heat up some oil to about 175–180 degrees in a wok or a deep pan.

4. Make sure your sliced vegetables and fish are dry, batter them and, using kitchen tongs, fry one at a time (or two-three at a time, as long as there is enough room in the wok).

5. Fry until crispy.

6. Use a paper towel to get rid of excess oil. The dish is then ready to be served, do not wait for it to cool down. Alternatively, it is possible to add egg yolk to the flour. It is important for the batter to be made just before making the dish, and that its temperature before frying is as low as possible. The order in which you fry your ingredients is important: start with vegetables, then mushrooms and seafood. This way, the flavours do not mix.

Sushi with tempura

Tempura is often served with sushi as the two dishes complement each other perfectly. Sushi itself can also be battered with tempura batter – the rolls are sliced after they are taken out of the oil and dried on a paper towel.

Tempura – a unique Japanese dish

The Japanese have become masters of making tempura. Everyone who wants to have a taste of real Japanese cuisine should give tempura a try – its crispy and delicate batter goes well with almost any dish.

Other articles