Tempura: The Basic Professional Recipe

A recent comment by Charles at Five Euro Food reminded me it was about time to publish a re-edited version of a former post on Tempura Recipes!

Tempura is not difficult to make. If you keep to the basics and good ingredients, you will be able to make a lot of people happy with healthy and beautiful food.

The following instructions should be amply enough to succeed with this celebrad Japanese gastronomic marvel:

INGREDIENTS:

What can you fry as tempura?
-Any green or not vegetable as long as they are cut to the appropriate size. Avocado and pumpkin can be made as tempura!
Important: try to keep all vegetables cut to the same size. There is no need to boil, steam or cook vegetables or else beforehand if they are fresh!
If consistency and thickness varies, sort them out accordingly in compatible batches. The frying will be more even, avoiding disappointing discrepancies.
Wash and dry vegetables.
-Any white-fleshed fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Clean and wipe off excessive humidity. Fry them separately from the vegetables. Some red-fleshed fish can be made as tempura, but they are a bit of an acquired taste.

In short, don’tbe afraid of experimenting!

Vegans and Vegetarians

Before we go any further, vegans and vegetarians can make tempura. Replace the egg white with cornstarch. Wheat flour allergics can use other flour types including rice flour, although they need be of the light-weight and fine sort.

-If you use frozen ingredients, make sure to thaw them completely and wipe off all excess water!

The batter:
-Use an equal amount of fine light flour and pure water.
1 cup of water for 1 cup of flour and 1 egg white are the right proportions.

Important!
-Flour, water and egg, not only must be at the same temperature, but must be chilled! Leave them together in the fridge before usage!
The batter should be prepared at the last moment after all the ingredients have been cut and laid on the table, the oil brought to the right temperature and the sauces or spices prepared and laid on the table!

-First mix water and egg white (or cornstarch/not too much with that one!). Then pour on the flour and mix lightly.
Do not overmix! Flour blobs should still be there! This is the secret for fluffy, light tempura!

Fish, crustaceans and shellfish may be completely dipped in the batter as well as rounded or stick-shaped vegetables including slices of onions, kabocha or avocado.
But in the case of large leafy vegetables such as shiso/perilla or large flat mushrooms such as shiitake, dipping only one side (back side for leaves!) in batter is preferable, otherwise you will end up with masses of fried batter!
Actually, in the case of fish, it is better to dip only the skin side in the batter.

Oil:
-Use plenty.
Use clean fresh oil!
Use salad oil of your preference and sesame oil in a 6:4 ratio.
Bad oil or old oil is bad for your health.
If the oil keep bubbling on upon being heated, change it!

Frying:
-The usual temperature is 180 degrees Celsius, but the ideal is 170 degrees Celsius.
Note: 160 degrees Celsius is not hot enough!
-Use a relatively thin pan for frying as the temperature of the oil will fall down by 4 degrees Celsius when food is plunged into the oil. The oil has to reach its former temperature back as soon as possible.

-Fry vegetables before fish or seafood as the latter’s proteins will change the character of the oil.
-Do not crowd the oil. Drop everything in the middle in small batches.
-Do not overfry. Experience will tell you when to take ingredients out.
-Do not fry twice! Full stop!

Serve on a piece of kitchen paper after having laid the ingredients on a grill for a few seconds to get rid of the excess oil.

Seasoning:
-Personally I eat tempura as it is without anything, but if I use seasoning I like the following:
Matcha powder
Rock salt
Curry mixture powder

Now,if you want to dip your tempura in soup/tsuyu, you can prepare it as follows:
Dashi (konbu/seweed dashi for vegans and vegetarians!): 5 (or 4) tablespoons
Soy sauce: 1 (or 2) tablespoon
Mirin/sweet sake: 1 tablespoon
Heat the whole a little before serving.

NOTE:
-You may use freshly grated daikon, grated ginger, lemon juice or a light dressing of your choice for further seasoning.

TEMPURA SAMPLES
(All taken at Setsugekka Restaurant in Shimada City!)

“Kogochi fish” and “nanba shrimp”!

All local vegetables: yellow pimento, sweet potato, plum tomato and ice plant!

“Kuruma ebi/large prawn”! The whole was edible!
A real piece of art!

A delicacy you will find only in Shizuoka Prefecture: “Sakura ebi kakiage/cherry shrimps tempura”!
With local “leaf ginger and “shishito/chili pepper”.

Local vegetables again: leaf ginger, sweet corn and ice plant!

Now, this is a very unusual tempura: “sakekasu/sake white lees tempura”! The white lees came from the neighbors, Oomuraya Brewery!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

9 thoughts on “Tempura: The Basic Professional Recipe”

  1. Dear Robert…the kids are young adults now…how time flies. The gal is doing her PhD in materials engineering in Nottingham Uni- Malaysia Campus and the boy will be doing his degree in Business Admin in Sheffield University,UK ( twinning program ) Yea , it has been a while …too many blogs to visit , bloggers friends from foodbuzz :))) and now finally landed back to your blog :))) nice to be back here anyway….as always drooling over all the yummy japanese food.

    Like

    1. Dear Elin!
      Time flies does it not?
      Your big kids are on bug studies, are they not? Congratulations!
      Incidentally for the past two days I’ve tried to leave a message in you comment box but Blogspot refuses my comments….

      Like

  2. Robert-Gilles, why do you tempt me with tempura, korokke and deep-fried prawns??? I love all of them, but try to have them as rarely as possible. They are irresistible and I cannot stop eating them when I start.
    Seriously, I love tempura, so I’m very grateful for this update. Cherry tomato sounds extraordinary! Not to mention sake lees.
    I will try your seasoning next time I have tempura. Do you add any liquid or just dip the food into the dry mixture?

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    1. Frankly speaking I’m a natural (in Japan some people call me “yabanjin”/savage! But actually it is a form of compliment for someone who cares for real taste!)!
      I have just come back from a nightout with some famous local chefs. I had mentioned to one of them who is the best tempura chef in town that I had the somewhat rude habit to eat great tempura with my fingers…
      What did he reply?
      “I do agree with you! After all, not so long ago the Japanese were eating tempura with fingers! If the tempura is really good, why bother with chopsticks for the sake of good manners…!”
      This said, I love tempura with only a little salt or curry powder or matcha Tea powder!
      Frankly speaking I care little for the dip, albeitvery popular even in Japan!

      Like

  3. Hi Robert,
    Thanks for the refresh course on making tempura. Points noted and I appreciate it very much. It has been a while since I was here and a lot to catch up with 🙂 have a nice day!

    Regards,
    Elin

    Like

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