How to Cook Tempura, a Japanese Traditional Dish

by Miku Kaneda September 23, 2020 2 min read

How to Cook Tempura, a Japanese Traditional Dish

Tempura is a Japanese traditional dish. Any ingredients (e.g. prawns, mushrooms, green beans, dry seaweed, green shiso, sillaginoid fish, scallops) would taste good when made into Tempura.

In Japan, Tempura specialized restaurants serve prime quality Tempura cooked by professional chefs. However, how many people actually cook it by themselves?

Although Japanese people sometimes cook it at home, they have had more or less unsuccessful experience such as “It’s not crispy”, “It gets sticky after a while”, and “Batter isn’t tasty”.

In this post, we would like to show you a very simple way to cook Tempura well. Once you learn the tips, you can be a Tempura professional from Today!

3 Tips for Tasty Tempura

Once you learn the tips, you can be a Tempura professional from Today!

There are mainly 3 points of cooking tasty Tempura ― batter, temperature of oil, and water inside ingredients. We will detail each tip below.

Tempura Batter

Tempura is cooked by coating ingredients with batter and deep-fry them. Tempura flour selling at supermarkets contains starch, baking powder, albumen powder, food coloring, etc. However, it is recommended to use only flour and water if you pursue professional taste.

Roughly mix flour and water at a ratio of 1:1 in a bowl. It is important to stir the mixture lightly.

If you beat the mixture too much, let’s say with a whisk, the flour will produce gluten and the batter will become sticky. It would be good to stop stirring when the mixture starts to clump.

Also, deep-frying at as low temperature as possible is important. For the best results, the flour and water should be kept cold in a refrigerator, and mixed just before deep-frying.

Temperature of Oil

The appropriate temperature is 170℃. It is important to maintain the temperature during deep-frying.

The appropriate temperature is 170℃. If you put too much amount in a pan at a time, it will lower the oil temperature. Then water inside the ingredients won’t come out enough, causing them to end up being sticky. To make the oil temperature stable, you should be careful about the amount cooked at a time as well as the timing. Tempura pans with thermometer are very convenient.

Water Inside Ingredients

The amount of water inside ingredients relates to oil temperature. To cook tasty Tempura, you should evaporate the water inside ingredients by deep-frying them in high temperature oil so that the ingredients are moderately dry and crispy when they are done. (Evaporating too much water will get the ingredients burnt and no longer juicy though.)

Also, Tempura will get watery and sticky after a while if too much water remains in the ingredients.

For these reasons, it is essential to control the oil temperature and the amount of water inside the ingredients properly.

Ingredients of Tempura

Pumpkin is popular in Japan.

There are a variety of ingredient, but prawn would be the most common. Remove the head and guts. Squeeze water out of the tail with a knife and extend the prawn. Quickly dip it in the batter and put it in the oil to fry. This can apply to other ingredients.

It is common eating Tempura with salt or Tempura sauce.

You can cook Tempura with ingredients that are easy to get outside Japan, for example, squid, shellfish, potato, onion and wild grasses like dandelion. It would be more convenient if you have pans, chopsticks, tongs, and vats specific for cooking Tempura.

Miku Kaneda
Miku Kaneda

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