Home » The Art of Making Perfect Tempura at Home
There is no need to go out to eat every time you crave some tempura — with a bit of practice, the right tools and some good ingredients, you can perfect the art of making delicious tempura at home.

Who doesn’t love an order of shrimp and/or vegetable tempura when you go out to your favorite Japanese restaurant? The crunchy, fried tempura batter, as well as the various ingredients it cradles, is a guilty pleasure, but there is no need to go out to eat every time you crave some tempura. With a bit of practice, the right tools and some good ingredients, you can perfect the art of making delicious tempura at home.

Is it possible? Can such a dish truly be made in your own kitchen? Yes, it sure can, and you’ll be surprised at how simple the dish really is, even though it may take a bit of skill to get that perfect crispy coating free of grease, with the ingredients you’ve chosen perfectly cooked on the inside. But if you can master tempura, just think of all the wonderful dinner parties you might have!

What Tools Do I Need to Make Tempura at Home?

Having the right cooking utensils and equipment is a big part of making good tempura. Professional kitchens will likely have expensive equipment for making large batches of tempura throughout the night. Thankfully, home kitchen equipment isn’t that expensive at all.

If you’re really serious about it, you can spend approximately $40 to $100 on a tempura pot or pan on Amazon.com or in an Asian supermarket that also sells cooking equipment and utensils. The pans often come with straining racks to allow the oil to drain, ensuring you’re tempura isn’t too greasy. If the pan or pot doesn’t come with one, you should purchase one separately, or at least have some sort of wire rack handy for draining.

If you aren’t ready to purchase one of these items yet, you can use a wok, a deep fryer, a cast iron skillet or even a pan deep enough to put in enough oil to cover and fry the tempura ingredients.

You’ll also need a ladle or skimmer to lift the tempura out of the pan or pot. The wire skimmer is a better tool because it allows more of the oil to drain quicker. If you don’t have one, an ordinary metal ladle or slotted spoon that will be fine.

How Do I Make Tempura at Home?

Once you have the equipment you need, the next step is purchasing the ingredients you need to make tempura. The most important ingredient is the tempura batter itself. You can purchase tempura flour at Asian supermarkets or in the International aisle of some supermarkets. It is essentially wheat flour with cornstarch and leavening, so you can substitute regular flour as well if you need to, though the final result may be a bit different than the tempura you are used to.

Tempura batter also absorbs less oil than other types of homemade batter, and so is a bit healthier, and delivers a crispier, less greasy final product.

Assuming you will be using tempura flour, you simply add ¾ cup of cold water to 1 cup of tempura batter mix or tempura flour, and whisk together. Once the batter is prepared, you can begin to coat your ingredients.

Typical ingredients include:

  • Shrimp
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Mushrooms
  • Shredded onions
  • Taro Root
  • Sweet Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Calamari
  • Bell Pepper
  • Zucchini

The ingredients should be cut accordingly, and shrimp should be peeled and deveined. Being sure that the ingredients are dry, simply dip and coat them with the batter, and then place them into the pot or pan that has vegetable oil or canola oil already heated to 350°F.

Deep fry the pieces until they begin turning golden brown. Flip them over if using a shallow pan. They will only need about three to five minutes to cook. Then remove the pieces with the skimmer and let them drain. Serve with soy sauce, ponzu sauce or tempura dipping sauce. Enjoy!