A Japanese staple, tempura is a process of cooking that yields a delicious crispy product as the end result. This process includes battering and deep frying, tempura is applied to wide range of foods, including vegetables and seafood. Although tempura was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century, it is now one of the most popular cooking techniques here.
Tempura involves making the sauce first, which includes traditional Japanese ingredients like sake and mirin. Then the batter is made out of tempura flour, egg (or egg whites) and water. The tempura product is then fried in the batter for a short amount of time. Then the tempura product is cooled and eaten with the dipping sauce for a delicious blast to the taste buds. Learn more about tempura and then check out our recipe and video for Carrot Tempura. This dish is easy to make and will be the hit of the dinner party!
Other Vegetables Good for Tempura
While this healthy and authentic Japanese recipe uses carrots, you can substitute a wide variety of other veggies and get creative results too. Here are some of our favorites:
- shishito peppers – A sweet green pepper that goes perfectly with tempura.
- shiitake mushrooms – this healthy item gets crispy and meaty when fried tempura style.
- Japanese sweet potatoes – Also known as the Japanese yam, similar to American sweet potatoes.
- Kabocha – Also called Japanese pumpkin, this is a bright orange winter squash.
- lotus roots – Originally from china, this root is flavorful and has nutritional and medicinal properties.
- shiso leaves – A member of the mint family this leaf has a unique flavor all its own.
- Always use chopsticks when whisking the tempura batter to reduce the risk of over-whisking. If you mix too much, the end product will be chewy instead of light and crispy.
- You should make tempura batter right before you use it.
- Tempura batter ingredients should always be cold to ensure crispy tempura. Tempura becomes crispy when cold batter meets hot oil.
- The best temperature is 320-356F. Pour a bit of the batter in the oil, if it sinks to the bottom and rises immediately, the oil’s temperature is around 320. If it sinks halfway and rises immediately, it’s around 356. If the batter immediately floats, the oil is too hot.
Serving Tempura: A Beginners Guide
Tempura is served as a side dish, an appetizer, a main dish and as a topping in Japan. This makes it one of the most versatile authentic Japanese food recipes. Because it is easy and fast to make, healthy and tasty, and mixes well with not just other Japanese dishes but any world cuisine it should be a part of any home chef’s repertoire.
Tempura is a great dish to whip up for vegetarians, as you can mix and match any number of meat free items. Try using seitan and tofu along with vegetables for a vegetarian tempura that will wow the crowds.
Tempura is also often used as an addition to soups in Japan as it gives them more substance and added flavor. The Japanese also often add tempura to the top of traditional noodle dishes like udon and soba for the same reasons. The truth is you can eat tempura alone as a full meal or add it to just about anything else. This is the magic of tempura, try it for yourself!
- 1 Carrot
- 2 Tbsp Tempura Powder
- Vegetable Oil, for frying
- Salt, for eating
- ¼ cup Tempura Flour
- 3 Tbsp Water
- 5 Tbsp Mentsuyu
- 1 Tbsp Mirin
- 1 Tbsp Sake
- 6 Tbsp Water
- Chop the carrots into thin, long pieces.
- Mix together the tempura sauce ingredients in a microwavable container. Microwave it for 2 minutes. Mix and set it aside.
- Mix together the ingredients of the batter in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, add carrots and 2 tablespoon of tempura powder. Mix.
- Add the batter into the bowl and mix well.
- Heat up oil to 338-356F.
- Grab a handful of the carrots and lightly squeeze them together before carefully inserting them in oil.
- Slowly fry in the oil. Make sure to keep the temperature between 338-356F. When carrot tempura starts to look brown and crispy, raise the temperature a little bit for a crispy texture.
Enjoy with a pinch of salt or dip tempura in tempura sauce!