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Japanese Food, Japanese Culture and Japanese Travel

Tempura Recipe

What is the Secret of Making Tempura?

Tempura recipe


Tempura (てんぷら) is one of the popular Japanese dishes. If you are going to a Japanese restaurant, you have probably ordered it many times.

I guess many people think tempura is quite difficult to cook, especially to make crispy batter. But you can make Tempura batter just from ingredients in your pantry.

Tempura is very good for parties, because of the tasty colourful looking, it is easy to pick and you can chose any tempura sauce depending on individual taste.

In addition, it needs very quick cooking time. Some of the sea food tempura just needs to fry for half a minute.

Also, you can use tempura for Tempura Udon (wheat noodles), Tempura Soba (buckwheat noodles), Tempura Sushi and Tempura Don (sweet sauce tempura on rice).

1. Tempura ingredients:

  • Plain flour: 100g (1Cup) *
  • Egg: 1
  • Cold water: 200cc (1Cup) *
  • Baking Soda: 1 tea spoon
  • Potato Starch: 2 table spoon
  • Your choice of vegetables, sea foods and mushrooms such as potato, sweet potato, aubergine (eggplant), zucchini (courgette), onion, capsicum (paprika), pumpkin, green beans, carrot, okura, asparagus, prawn, white fish and squid.
  • Oil (Natane oil, sunflower, corn or canola oil)

*1cup =200cc

2. Make Tempura batter

  1. Mix Plain flour, baking soda and potato starch together.  And then sift mixed flour as preparation.
  2. Crack an egg into the bowl and beat it roughly. Add the cold water and mix them.
  3. Put 1/3 mixed flour in to egg mixture and gently mix. Long cooking chop sticks are the best utensil for mixing tempura batter. If you do not have them, use a fork instead.
  4. Then add an additional 1/3 flour and mix.
  5. And finally add the last 1/3 flour and mix.
  6. Important: Lumps in the flour is completely fine.  Do not mix it too much as you will get a lot of gluten which makes it heavy and un-crispy tempura batter.

Prepare ingredients

Use the freshest ingredients you can find and cut them into pieces of same size to avoid an uneven cook.

Root vegetables (potato, carrot, sweet potato) and pumpkins are sliced 1cm.

Prawn‘s preparation

  1. Take off the head and shell, but keep the tail.
  2. Remove the sand vein.
  3. Scrape the tail to stop the oil spitting when you fry it.
  4. Half cut the abdomen side every 1cm.
  5. Then push back side to abdomen side by fingers.

This is bit difficult explain, so I found the video for you.

If you use this technique, you can cook very straight prawn Tempura.

Squid‘s preparation

Score the surface of the squid horizontally then vertically to help it keep a straight shape.

White fish‘s preparation

Take off bones and use fillet.

3. How to fry Tempura

Put oil into a flying pan.

Heat up the frying oil to 170 degrees. You can check the oil temperature without a thermometer. Put one drop of tempura batter into the oil. If the tempura batter sinks the bottom of flying pan, it is too low temperature.

If the tempura batter did not sink at all and the batter spread quickly with a crackling sound the it is too high temperature.

Best temperature condition is the drop of tempura batter will sink half way in flying pan then float.

Puts vegetable into the tempura batter bowl to coat them with tempura batter then carefully put them to the oil. Fry one side and then turn over and fry the other side.

Example of frying time;

  • Vegetable. 160~170℃ one side 1minute each. Total of cooking time is 2-2½ minutes.
  • Sea food. 190℃ your ingredients as fresh as you can eat as sashimi (raw). You just fry them very quickly around 10 to 20 seconds. If you use frozen ingredients, defrost them first and wipe off any water using kitchen towel.  Also, it needs to fry longer.
  • Leaf vegetables. Such as leaf of celery, Mitsuba (Japanese herb). First of all, sprinkle some plain flour on both sides of the leaf and then put add the tempura batter mix. This technique keeps the batter nicely on the leaves. 160℃. Little bit lower temperature makes it tastier and avoids burning as well.
One of the very important secrets is keeping the same temperature when frying tempura. So please do not fry many tempura at the same time.

Just keep frying 3 or 4 at a time. Another secret is draining the oil very well. I normally pick up the cooked tempura by using long chop sticks first.

And drain most of the oil, my left hand holding ladle strainer 10cm above flying pan to keep the tempura hot.

By keeping the tempura at a high temperature it will make it easier to drain the oil quickly and therefore will make it crispy and crunchy tempura.

After all of the oil has drained from the strainer, transfer the tempura piece to a kitchen towel on the plate. The kitchen towel will drain off even more oil.

4. Three Different Tempura sauces

  • With Salt
  • With Lemon
  • Using Tentsuyu

How to make the Tentsuyu version

Tentsuyu is the traditional dipping sauce for tempura. It gives a real depth of flavor yet it is easy to make.

  • Water  200cc
  • Soy Sauce 2½ Table spoon
  • Mirin 2½ Table spoon
  • Bonito Flakes 5g

Put all ingredients into pan then boiling 3minutes. And drain with strainer.

Try making this tentsuyu sauce and let us know how you get along!

Table spoon=15ml


Bona Petit!