Real Tempura in Japan

Tempura is a dish of seafood or vegetables that have been dressed batter and deep fried. "Tempura", which has been one of the three grand cuisines together with Sushi and Soba(buckwheat noodles) since the Edo period(1603-1868), is a japanese representative dish. Tempura traces back to a deep-frying dish introduced by Portuguese in the 16th century. It was adapted and evolved by Japanese. Tempura developed from what was originally a light meal sold by pushcart vendors in the Edo period. Today the pushcarts are gone, but tempura is cooked even at homes, sold at every supermarket, all noodles stands at train stations and soba(udon) restaurants.So it is a commoner's food. Yet it is also served at classy tempura restaurants that even Japanese people dream of eating at, when cooked properly. It can be both homely and classy. As above tempura is very popular in Japan.
Do you think tempura is high in fat? The world has an image of fried food as being quite heavy. But it's actually lower in calories than other fried foods. Tempura is prepared with vegetables and seafood. Meat is not usually cooked this way in Japan (They eat tempura of chicken called "toriten" only in Oita Prefecture). The batter coating is mostly puffed up with air, so it doesn't contain as much oil as it seems. They are why tempura is quite healthy compared to other fried foods. Fresh-off-the-fryer has a crunchy texture and tastes the best. But it is good not hot.

Recipe of Tempura

The ways to eat tempura

  • Teishoku style

    Tempura is eaten as a main dish with rice and miso soup. Though they eat tempura this way at restaurants, this is relatively a homely way to eat it. Japanese usually eat it with ten-tsuyu(dipping sauce for tempura), but some people eat with soy sauce at home.



  • Donburi-style

    "Ten-don" means tempura on a bowl of rice. This is relatively a way to eat it at restaurants. Kakiage(mixed tempura fritter) on a bowl of rice is called "Kakiage-don". Tempura is splinkled ten-tsuyu on.



  • Tempura soba(udon) noodles - Hot soba(udon) with tempura

    Hot soba(udon) topped tempura is served at soba(udon) restaurants and soba stands at train stations. Of cause it is also eaten at home. It is very popular in Japan.
    A bowl of soba(udon) by itself is plain, but with tempura it becomes a dish that makes it a luxurious meal and fills your stomach.
    There are various kinds of tempura soba(udon). The names of them depend on what tempura is topped on.


  • Ten-seiro(cold soba with tempura)

    Ten-seiro is usually served at soba restaurants. Though it is also eaten at home, it is relatively a way to eat at soba restaurants. They dip it into ten-tsuyu(dipping sauce for tempura) and eat.
    Cold udon with tempura is called "ten-zaru-udon".






The various kinds of tempura

It has a very wide variety.
  • Prawn(shrimp)

    Prawn(shrimp) tempura, which is called "ebiten" in Japanese, is the most popular tempura in Japan, the king of tempura. Many Japanese have an image of soba(udon) with prawn tempura to tempura soba(udon).
    Make 3 to 4 cut notches in the side, and spread out it not to curl. Prawn(shrimp) cooks through very quickly. If you deep-fry it until golden brown, it will become overcooked and stiff. So be careful not to over-fry it.



  • Squid

    Squid tempura is called "ikaten" in Japanese. Be careful not to over-fry it. You should make some cuts in the side to easy to eat.



  • Kisu

    Kisu is a small fish with white flesh. Fishes with red flesh are not used for tempura in Japan. You should use fishes with white flesh for it.



  • scallop

    Scallop is called "hotate" in Japanese. Tempura brings out the scallop's sweetness.



  • Sea eel

    Sea eel is called "anago" in Japanese. It needs to be heated thoroughly. So it is fried slowly and with a thick coating of batter.



  • Egg plant("nasu" in Japanese)

    It is a regular, popular item of vegetable tempura. It is cut in lines and fried.



  • Lotus root("renkon" in Japanese)

    It is cut in round slices and fried.



  • Shishitou

    It is a small sweet green pepper. It is a regular item of tempura. But it is not a main of them, it is served and garnished other tempura with.



  • Pumpkin("kabocha" in Japanese)

    It is a common item of tempura, and popular among women. It is cut in slices and fried.



  • Sweet potato("satsuma-imo" in Japanese)

    It is a common item of tempura, and popular among women. It is cut in slices and fried



  • Green asparagus

    Cut off the bottom 1 to 2cm of them, and peel away the rough skin from the bottom half of them. Cut half and fry.



  • Green bean("ingen" in Japanese)

    Fry in a bunch of them.



  • Green Pepper

    It is a homely item. You can use it instead of shishitou. Cut half and fry.



  • Green perilla leaf("ooba" or "ao-jiso" in Japanese)

    It is served and garnished other tempura with, and attractive to the eye.



  • Maitake mushroom

    Tempura of maitake is a regular, popular item. Tempura is the ideal way to bring out the best of maitake compared to boiling, broiling, and steaming.



  • Shiitake mushroom

    Remove the stems of them, cut a star on the cap, and fry.



  • Seasonal ingredients

    Bamboo shoot, Edible wild plants such as warabi(bracken), taranome(fatsia sprout), fukinoto(butterbur scape) and so on.


  • The other ingredients

    Chikuwa fish sausage(It is not refined, but common ingredient), Dried nori laver, Tenkasu(It is deep-fried batter. It is usually topped on hot soba or udon)



  • Kakiage

    Kakiage is tempura fritter mixed some vegetables and seafood. Kakiage is definitely sold at every supermarket and served at all soba noodles stands at train stations in Japan. It is very popular in Japan.
    There are many combinations of kakiage. Representative kakiage below.
  • Burdock-Carrot Kakiage(combination of peeled, julienned burdock and carrot)

  • Onion-Carrot-Small shrimp Kakiage(combination of sliced onion, julienned carrot, and small shrimp)

  • Kakiage ingredients that are often used in Japan; onion, carrot, burdock, green beans, sora-mame(fava bean), shrimp, sakura-shrimp, squid, kobashira(small scallops), maitake mushroom and so on. Combine your favorite ingredients together, and enjoy "kakiage".


    The variety of tempura is expanding infinitely with numerous different ideas. Find out your personal favorite.



Tempura batter


Tempura batter is made with flour, eggs, and water. But tempura batter made with flour, eggs, and cold water is usually used at authentic tempura restaurants, it is difficult to fry them to a crisp when cooking at home. So tempura flour that enables crispy frying by simply mixing it with water is used at many homes in Japan. We recommend you to use tempura flour.
Vegetables are fried to a crisp with thin batter to retain their juiciness.


Dipping sauce for tempura


It is called "ten-tsuyu" in Japanese. It is served with grated daikon radish and ginger on the side, which you add to the sauce before dipping in a piece of tempura. You can use "men-tsuyu" for ten-tsuyu. If you will make ten-tsuyu by yourself, refer to recipe of tempura.
Though ten-tsuyu is general, tempura is also eaten with salt and lemon instead of ten-tsuyu.


About oil


Vegetable oil is used for frying oil at home. But besides it sesame oil is also used at restaurants. Only sesame oil is used at classy, authentic tempura restaurants. It is a tradition of Edo(the old name of Tokyo) to use sesame oil for frying tempura. Tempura fried with sesame oil is light brown and nutty. We recommend you to add a little sesame oil to vegetable oil.





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