Norman and Reiko, our ground team in Japan, share some insight on a tasty favorite of locals and international tastes alike – tempura! Its roots dating back to the 16th century, tempura was introduced to Japan from early trade and Jesuit missions by the Portuguese. From there, it became a staple food item. Norman gives us more backstory and a quick and easy tempura recipe below for you to try at home.
Tempura is eaten year-round. The menu changes with the harvesting of seasonal/ regional vegetables. It is said that the deeper you get in the mountains the more variety of vegetables and plants are battered and fried. We like Asian pumpkin, sweet potato and prawns.
Japanese food is on the top of many people's list of favorite Asian cuisines. Cooking this food at home can seem like a lot of hard work, but this easy home recipe includes everyday ingredients you likely already have in the house. It can be made and used in no time. The trick to the batter is to keep it cold. Here is an easy guide to follow. Give it a try!
- cold water 100ml
- cold beer or Japanese sake 100ml
- 1 cold egg
- 1 cup regular (light if possible) baking flour 180cc, sifted
- vegetables and/or seafood of your choice
- Lightly mix ingredients together (except for the vegetables and seafood) being careful not to over mix it. It is ok to have some lumps in the batter. If you live in a hot climate, use a double bowl with ice in the bottom bowl and batter in top. Keep the batter as cold as possible. The batter consistency should be light and watery when it's ready.
This is all you need to make the Tempura batter!
Hint: You can adjust the batter thickness after a test fry, by adding a touch more flour (thicker coating) or water (thinner coating), just remember to keep it cold!
- Heat your favorite cooking oil* to 180C in a fryer or deep frying pan. *Keep in mind that olive oil is not suitable for frying due to its low smoke point
- Cut vegetables, prawns (shrimp) or fish into bite-size pieces.
- Dip them in the batter one at a time and lightly deep fry it in the oil. Take it out before the color starts to change. Lightly salt after frying.
Tip: For a special twist, mix Matcha (green tea) powder and salt to use as a side topping when serving.
Troubleshooting: If the batter is not crispy to your liking then check your oil temperature is high enough, and make sure the batter has not warmed up. A batter can be stored in the fridge if needed, but ideally should be used soon after making.
And that's all you need to make great Tempura! We hope you give it a try at home.
~Norman & Reiko
Take this easy recipe and enjoy some Japanese traditions at home! Check out these 18 tempura ideas for great vegetable and seafood options in your recipe. For more great recipes from Norman, read his Home pizza project article. Enjoy the cooking!
Are you keen to taste Japanese food first-hand? Work up an appetite, while exploring the country's culture and cuisine, on our immersive Japan cycling tours.