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Make Easy Tempura

Updated on October 15, 2014
Making my own tempura
Making my own tempura

Make Delicious Tempura

I love my vegetables, but sometimes I want a creative way to cook them. That's when I heat up some oil for tempura.

Japanese Tempura is deep-fried vegetables or seafood.

The perfect tempura results in sweet, soft vegetables with a crisp, flaky crust that are absolutely delicious.

And since January 7th is National Tempura Day, it is a great reason to share my tempura recipe with you.

Step 1 - Slice the Vegetables

Cut Up the Vegetables

Cut Vegetables for Tempura
Cut Vegetables for Tempura

I've used a lot of different types of vegetables for my tempura, usually whatever I have in the fridge. Some of my favorites are:

  • Zucchini can either be cut into rounds or in half or thirds then widthwise into eighths.
  • Eggplant are peeled and sliced into thin rounds, which are then cut in half if over 3" across.
  • Onions are cut into rounds and separated, just like with onion rings.
  • Mushrooms that I use are usually button mushrooms which I either leave whole or cut in half.
  • Bell Peppers are cut into long strips, the length of the pepper and about 1/4" wide.
  • Green Beans are fried whole.
  • Brussels Sprouts are cut in half and loose leaves removed.
  • Asparagus are snapped in half and fried.
  • Carrots are sliced very thin, around 1/8" thick, by 2" long and the width of the carrot.

Tempura works with other vegetables, so give other ones a try. Just remember the harder the vegetable the smaller the pieces need to be, and anything with a thick skin either needs it removed or scored to prevent them suddenly popping in the oil and spit oil onto anyone nearby.

You can also try frying

  • Pickle Slices. Bread and butter pickle slices are actually really good.
  • Shrimp are one of the most commonly tempura fried seafood items and they are really good.
  • Crab pieces are tasty fried, though be careful since they easily overcook.
  • Calamari can be good though you need to use small pieces and avoid cooking them too long or they'll become tough.

Step 2 - Heat the Oil

Checking Oil Temperature

Heating Oil for Frying Tempura
Heating Oil for Frying Tempura

Tempura is basically vegetables fried in oil, so to make it you'll need to have a nice sized cooking pot with about 6 cups of oil (enough to float the batter-covered vegetables in your pot).

Nearly any cooking oil will work, whether vegetable or canola or your preferred oil. I just use whatever I have at hand which is usually vegetable oil.

Obviously if you have an electric deep fryer feel free to use it. It will make your life easier.

Pick Up a Deep Fryer

I fry my tempura in a pot on the stove, but that's just because I haven't picked up an electric fryer yet.

Having an electric deep-fryer makes things far easier since they usually have temperature gauges so you can get the oil to the right temperature. They also hold the oil so it's easier to reuse it a couple of times instead of just tossing it out after one use.

My favorite part of a deep-fryer is that it keeps the hot oil away from kids and pets.

Heat the Oil

Heat the oil until hot.

I usually check to make sure the oil is hot enough by sprinkling a couple drops of water in the oil. If the water drops sizzle it is hot enough, so I then turn the temperature down just a hair to prevent it burning.

It's easier to judge the temperature with a thermometer. If using a candy thermometer, a temperature of about 340-350* F should be good.

Get a Deep-Fry and Candy Making Thermometer

Good thermometers are extremely handy when frying things or making candy.

It makes it much easier to tell when the oil is too hot or too cold, otherwise you could end up with undercooked or burnt food.

Every kitchen really should have a thermometer for oil and candy making.

Step 3 - Make the Batter

Tempura Batter Recipe

Tempura batter is super simple and only takes a few ingredients. It doesn't sit around well, so only make the tempura batter right before you use it.

Making Tempura Batter
Making Tempura Batter

Ingredients

  • 1 cup very cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl beat the egg. Add water and flour and beat just until incorporated. Use immediately.
Cast your vote for Tempura Batter Recipe

Tempura Batter Mix

Don't want to make your own tempura batter? Pick up a mix instead. Nearly any frying batter, whether for fish and chips, beer batter, or cornmeal, will work.

Tempura batters tend to cook up lighter than most batters, but they all tend to taste good.

Sun Bird Seasoning Mix, Tempura Batter, 1.19-Ounce Packets (Pack of 24)
Sun Bird Seasoning Mix, Tempura Batter, 1.19-Ounce Packets (Pack of 24)

This is the tempura batter mix I usually use most often since it's stocked at my local grocery store and the packets make just enough batter for a quick tempura fix.

 

Step 4 - Dredge the Vegetables

Step 3 - Dredge the Vegetables

Dredge the Vegetables in the Tempura Batter
Dredge the Vegetables in the Tempura Batter

Blot the vegetables dry if necessary, then quickly dip into the tempura batter. Immediately put them into the hot oil.

Step 5 - Fry the Vegetables

Frying Vegetables

Fry the Tempura
Fry the Tempura

How long to fry the vegetables will depend upon the vegetables used and how hot the oil is.

It should only take about 45 seconds for the bottoms to get light golden brown. When it reaches that color, flip the vegetables over so that they can fry on the other side. Let that side cook.

Vegetables are done when they are golden brown, don't let them get brown brown since they will continue cooking for a couple moments after being removed from the oil.

Taste test the first few pieces to make sure the oil wasn't too hot and didn't cook the outside before the inside was finished.

Step 6 - Drain the Tempura

Step 5 - Drain Fried Vegetables

Tempura Fried Vegetables
Tempura Fried Vegetables

After scooping out the vegetables from the hot oil let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Keep vegetables in a warm oven while cooking the rest of the vegetables, then serve immediately.

Video on How to Make Tempura

Step 7 - Dipping Sauces

Dipping Sauces

Teriyaki Sauce for Tempura
Teriyaki Sauce for Tempura

My favorite way to eat tempura is dipped in ranch dressing, my boyfriend likes it drizzled with malt vinegar, but we both have enjoy dipping it in other sauces as well.

We're totally addicted to teriyaki sauce, so that frequently gets used and of course soy sauce and sweet and sour sauce are also big hits.

Sometimes we'll have little cups of sauce to alternate dipping sauces per bite.

Step 8 - Time for Tempura

Step 6 - Eat the Tempura

Tempura
Tempura

Serve the tempura as soon as possible since it's not as good when cold.

Make sure not to cover it since it will cause it to get mushy.

An Asian Inspired Meal

Asian Inspired Dinner Menu

Complete Japanese Dinner
Complete Japanese Dinner

When I make tempura I usually make a few other things alongside to make it a complete meal.

My Menu

Edamame

Egg Drop Soup

Tempura

White Rice

Seaweed Sheets

Pickled Daikon

Green Tea Ice Cream

Hot Green Tea

Edamame

Soybeans or Edamame
Soybeans or Edamame

Edamame is another name for immature soy beans.

Although they are occasionally found fresh in some stores I usually get frozen bags and just keep them in the freezer until I crave them. Then I pour however much I want into some salted hot water and cook them about 5 minutes until they thaw and get hot inside. After draining them I sprinkle some more salt over them and dig in.

Edamame is sold both with pods on or pods off. If the soybean pods are still on it's easy to just pull it open and pop the seeds inside into your mouth.

Edamame is so yummy and they're super good for you. Women especially seem to crave them since they give you the vitamins you need. It's the perfect appetizer for an Asian-inspired menu.

Egg Flower Soup

Egg Flower Soup
Egg Flower Soup

Egg Flower Soup or Egg Drop Soup is kind of like chicken broth with some eggs dropped into it. This creates a nice rich broth studded with small carrot pieces, green onion, and swirls of cooked egg.

It's super easy to make, especially if you use a premade packet like I do, and it tastes lovely and rich. It's really warming and nourishing.

We usually have a cup of Egg Drop Soup before eating Chinese food.

Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Roasted Seaweed Sheets or Nori
Roasted Seaweed Sheets or Nori

Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Warning! These are addicting!!! Roasted Seaweed Snacks are like little pieces of nori, but are a bit thinner and crisper.

People either absolutely love them or they hate them. I've noticed it seems to be connected to gender, something in the seaweed is a necessary nutrient for women perhaps. I know I crave them often.

Most of the women I know will go through packets of these salty squares of dried seaweed.

Luckily they are one of the best snacks out there. They taste better than potato chips and have barely any calories or fat.

Pickled Daikon Radish

I always noticed a little Japanese restaurant near my college and so one day when I saw that that they were having a lunch special we decided to try it. When we received our plates there were a couple of interesting little circular pickled things on the side of the plate and after tasting them we demanded to know just what they were since they were delicious!

It turns out they were pickled radishes, a type of radish called daikon specifically, and the Japanese eat a slice or two of them alongside meals to help with digestion.

I don't know about the digestion part, but a couple of slices really sets off a meal.

Rice Steamer

I really like to have rice alongside my tempura.

Though tempura doesn't tend to be as greasy as other fried foods, I still like something a bit starchy to offset it and rice is such an important part of Asian meals.

I'm not very good at making rice though, I much prefer having a rice steamer to make it perfectly every time. Rice steamers make perfect rice every time without any hassles.

Green Tea Ice Cream

One of my favorite ways to finish up an Asian meal is a nice scoop of green tea ice cream.

The smooth flavor of the creamy green tea tastes refreshing after the meal and it is just the perfect touch.

I haven't tried this brand of green tea ice cream, but it looks delicious.

Make Other Easy Asian Recipes

There are lots of different Asian recipes out there, pick up a cookbook to try your hand at some other yummy recipes.

© 2013 Alisha Vargas

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    • JumpinJake profile image

      JumpinJake 4 years ago

      This sure made my mouth water when seeing it, well done!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Oh yum! I am a huge fan of tempura. I love your simple batter recipe!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image

      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      Tempura is one of my all time favorites - although not very healthy for me. Thanks for sharing a great (well done) lens!

    • MissKeenReviewer profile image

      MissKeenReviewer 4 years ago

      Love, love, love all kinds of tempura. I always make my own tempura sauce, fresh and superb. Great lens and keep on whipping up a good dish.

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