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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Japanese Tempura Recipe

Tempura is a Japanese seafood and vegetables, deep fried dish. An influence from Portugal, this Japanese adaptation became popular in the 19th century. It can be served on the side with rice, or "donburi" style on top of a bowl of rice called ten-don, or even as a topping in ramen noodles. Besides the favorite shrimp, tempura has many various ingredients that are quickly dipped in batter and deep fried. It's dipped in a special sauce before eating, including grated daikon and ginger. My personal favorites are sweet potato, shrimp, pumpkin, and lotus root.

Serves 4-8    780 cal./serving


  • 8 large shrimp
  • 1 squid
  • 4 whiting(kisu) fillets or thin fillets of any white fish
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 sweet potato(satsuma-imo)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 oz.(50g) green beans
  • nori seaweed
  • 1 eggplant
  • 4-5 fresh shitake mushrooms or 4 fresh white mushrooms
  • 7 oz.(200g) lotus root(renkon)
  • 5-6 cups vegetable oil(tempura oil if available)

Alternative ingredients:

  • Kabocha squash or pumpkin
  • onion
  • okra
  • scallops
  • ginger
  • snow peas
  • asparagus


  • 2 egg beaten
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 cups dashi stock
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin


  • Shrimp- Shell shrimp with tails still attached and devein. Make 3- small incisions on the underside of each shrimp to prevent curling. Gently straighten shrimp by pulling until you feel a slight give.
  • Squid- Gut squid and remove thin membrane skin. Cut in half lengthwise, then into 3/4 inch(2cm) wide strips.
  • Fish- Lightly rinse fillets.
  • Bell Peppers- Seed and and cut into 2-3 inch, i inch wide strips
  • Sweet potatoes- Wash and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds.
  • Carrot- Cut into 1/4 inch rounds.
  • Eggplant- Quarter eggplant lengthwise. Lay cut side down and make 3 more lengthwise cuts, fan out, and cut off cap for slices. If using mini-eggplant, cut several slits lengthwise and leave cap.
  • Green Beans- Tie 4-5 green beans together in the middle with some nori seaweed. Moisten strip with water and secure.
  • Shitake Mushrooms- Discard the stems and make an "X" slit on the cap.
  • Lotus Root(ren-kon)-  Peel and cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Place lotus root and sweet potatoes in a bowl of lightly salted water for a few minutes.

Dipping Sauce- Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature.


  1. Pat all ingredients with a paper towel to dry them. Arrange all ingredients close at hand before start frying.
  2. Heat oil in a an for deep-frying to (350°F/180ÂșC). 
  3. Prepare batter: Make batter just before frying, don't let it set out long. Mix egg and water first, then add flour all together. Mix lightly with a fork or chopsticks. Batter should be loosely combined and should be lumpy. 
  4. Dip each ingredients quickly in the batter like a bird diving for fish. Spread ingredients out evenly in pan. Start with lotus root and sweet potato as they take the longest, then seafood, then other ingredients.
  5. As soon as ingredients are cooked and crispy, remove from pan and let drip drain on a rack. Serve tempura immediately, line plates with absorbent paper and arrange decoratively.
  6. Serve dipping sauce in individual small bowls. Set out grated daikon(Japanese white radish) and grated ginger. Take a little of both and mix in the sauce. Take the tempura you like, dip and eat.

Key Points to great Tempura

  • Maintain a constant cooking temperature for the oil, otherwise tempura may turn out soggy. Check oil by dropping in a little batter. If it sinks halfway down and rises back up, oil is ready. When adding ingredients, temperature may go down, so add heat until it comes back up. 
  • After batter has set on ingredients in the oil, pick up a piece and expose it to the air for a moment before putting it back. This will allow more air to enter and make crispier tempura.
  • Occasionally, use a strainer to remove bits of batter so they don't burn.

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