Posted by: greatteachersato | February 6, 2010

Tempura Time!

Delicious Tempura

天ぷら (The Kanji for “Ten” is the same as the word for Heaven, fits the dish perfectly) Tempura is a dish of deep fried goodness from Japan, usually made with seafood and vegetables. It is truly a food for the gods themselves. If you’re curious about the taste… Well, get the best day of your life and then put it in your mouth. It’s kind of like that. What makes tempura different from your average fried foods is how crisp and light the batter is and if you make it right it’s not as greasy as you’d expect. Do not get it confused with other fried foods, if there are any kind of breadcrumbs involved (or panko) it is considered a “furai” such as ebi-furai, tonkatsu, korroke (as you’ve seen in my previous post).

In Japan, tempura can vary in many forms. Not only what it’s made of but the quality as well. It can range from fast food dishes to exquisite 5-star restaurants. They say it can take years to perfect the perfect tempura but even beginners can enjoy their very first ones as well. The one thing that you have to get used to is taking care of how long you cook each ingredient. Cook thinner ones for less time and thicker ones for a bit longer. It’s mainly trial and error but after a while I’m sure you’ll get used to it to perfect your perfect tempura 😉

Let’s start with the batter.
This is a typical type of batter. If you want best results it would probably be best to go to your local asian grocery store and find yourself a pack of tempura batter.

– 1 Egg
– 1 Cup of Water (Cold)
– 1 Cup of all purpose flour

1. Beat the egg in a bowl.
2. Add Ice water to the bowl, make sure you don’t put in any ice cubes. The reason for using cold water is because it helps out the texture of the tempura. The colder the water is, the better.
extra : Be sure not to over mix the batter too much. Don’t mind the lumps here and there as long as they’re not way too big.

Now for the cooking!
When it comes to ingredients there are many to chose from. Pretty much any kind of seafood or vegetable you can imagine. You can be creative and make your own original tempura!

– Batter
– Enough oil to deep fry

~ Seafood of choice
– Shrimp
– Fish
– Scallops
– Crab
– Squid

~ Vegetables of choice
– Green Bell Pepper
– Mushrooms of any kind (I recommend Shiitake mushrooms but any type is fine)
– Egg Plant
– Satsumaimo (Japanese Sweet Potato) I’m sure any kind of sweet potato would work too.
– Yam
– Kabocha (Asian Pumpkin)
– Carrot
– Bamboo Shoots
– Okra

That’s just the basic list, I could go on and on but I’m sure that’s good enough for now 😛

Cooking Steps!

1. Let’s make sure we have everything prepared and cut (about 1 inch in thickness) before we prepare the batter. That way it stays as cool as possible. Either that or leave it in the fridge/freezer after you’re done making it and then cut the veggies. Do that if you really have to, it is usually recommended to not start with the batter.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan to 340~350F degrees (160~180 degrees Celsius)

3. Lightly dip ingredients in the batter and fry them until crisp. Good tempura will be a light golden color. Keep in mind once again, vegetables take longer to fry than seafood.

4. Drain tempura on a rack. If you don’t have one then use paper towels (you’ll need a good amount if you do it this way).

5. Enjoy eating your delicious tempura! Goes great with rice, soba (thin Japanese noodles served warm or cold depending on the season), udon (thicker noodles, usually served warm. Top a bowl of udon with tempura for awesomeness).

Extra Tips :
– Fry the vegetables first, at maybe 340F then after that the seafood at 350F.
– Oil Temperature is really important for tempura. Drop a little batter into the oil. If the batter comes up right away instead of sinking to the bottom of the pan, it’s about 360 F degree. If the batter goes halfway to the bottom and comes up, it’s about 340F degree. This is said to be the right temperature to fry tempura.
– Try not covering the ingredients with way too much batter.
– Be sure to pat down the seafood as much as you can to avoid any unwanted oil splashes.

– Salt
– Grated Daikon Radish
– Tentsuyu (Tempura Dipping sauce)

I tend to go with the tentsuyu whenever I make it. Goes great with any kind of tempura. You didn’t think I was going to leave you without teaching you how to make it right?

Tempura Dipping Sauce or Tentsuyu

– 1 cup dashi soup stock
– 1/4 cup mirin
– 1/4 cup soy sauce
– 1/2 tbsp sugar

1. Boil 1 cup of water and add the dashi soup stock.
2. Add the mirin, soy sauce and sugar.
3. Let it boil for a bit but not too much, enough for the sugar to dissolve. Let it simmer and you’re set.

There you have it readers 🙂
Hope you enjoy making your tempura! It can be tedious work but the results are always worth it. Give it a shot!

Ah, I almost forgot, here’s our lesson for this post!

魚 (さかな) = Sakana = Fish
えび = Ebi = Shrimp
ホタテ = Hotate = Scallop
カニ = Kani = Crab
イカ = Ika = Squid
野菜 (やさい) = Yasai = Vegetables
ピーマン = Piiman = Green Bell Pepper
カボチャ = Kabocha = Pumpkin
にんじん = Ninjin = Carrot
ナス = Nasu = Egg Plant

Stay tuned for more, until next time 🙂

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  1. This is interesting…. The recipe will be helpful….

    Do you also accept request? ’cause I want to learn how to make Japanese Curry Rice…

    Thank you!

    • Glad you found it useful! I do take requests, I’ll make a post on it maybe later tonight. The thing is with curry there isn’t really a wrong way to make it, just depends on your own little personal touches. I will include the basics and also others 😉

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