Practically embedded in the menus of some of your favorite Japanese food joints is the delicious tempura. Tempura is a dish that consists of deep-fried seafood and vegetables that are served over rice and noodles. However, you might find it surprising that its origins aren’t exactly Japanese.
HISTORY OF TEMPURA
Its history dates back to the mid-16th century where Portuguese missionaries residing in the port city of Nagasaki would consume deep-fried seafood while abstaining from meat during the time of Lent. In fact, the word “tempura” is derived from the Latin term “ad tempora cuaresma” which means “in the time of Lent”.
The original dish might have disappeared from Portuguese cuisine but the Japanese have definitely embraced it as their own. What was once a foreign meal has been transformed to better suit the taste of the Japanese people.
Tempura is prepared with the goal of preserving the delicate taste of fresh seafood, using only flour, eggs, and water as batter ingredients. Cold water was also used to prevent the activation of wheat gluten, giving your shrimp tempura the unique and iconic crispy texture that we know of today. Back in the day, tempura was not served with a dipping sauce but eventually, it became customary to dip tempura quickly in a sauce mixed with grated daikon just before eating it.
At Karman Foods, we have the essential tempura sauce ingredients for a complete and well-balanced tempura meal that rivals those in restaurants. Here’s an easy-to-follow shrimp tempura recipe from Just One Cookbook along with links to ingredients available in our galleries! See more of Japanese market products.
For more authentic Asian products, visit our Karman Foods online Asian grocery store.
- 10 prawns
- Potato starch/cornstarch (for dusting)
- Neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
- 1 large egg (cold, about 50 g)
- 200 ml iced water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (120 g)
- ¾ cup dashi (180 ml; or ¾ cup water + 1 Tsp Ajinomoto Hondashi)
- 3 Tbsp Kikkoman Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Kikkoman Manjo Aji Mirin
- 2 Tsp sugar
- 2-inch daikon radish (5 cm; grated and lightly squeeze to drain)
How To Make Tempura Sauce
- Mix dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
How To Make Tempura
- In a wok or a medium-size pot, heat 1 ½" (3 cm) of the oil to 340-350 ºF (170-180 ºC). Check the temperature with chopsticks or a thermometer. When small bubbles begin forming around chopsticks, you’re ready to deep fry.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl.
- Add the egg into ice-cold water.
- Whisk the egg mixture and remove the foam from the surface.
- Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour and mix. Do not overmix and keep the batter cold at all times.
- Dust potato starch (or cornstarch) over the shrimp to help it adhere to the tempura batter.
- Coat the shrimp in the batter.
- Deep fry the shrimp until golden brown for about 2 minutes. Do not crowd the wok to maintain the temperature.
- Drain excess oil by transferring the cooked tempura to a wire rack or a plate lined with a paper towel.
How To Serve Tempura
- Grate the daikon and squeeze the liquid out.
- Serve shrimp tempura with warm tempura dipping sauce and grated daikon on the side. Put some grated daikon in the dipping sauce and dip the tempura in the sauce to enjoy.