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How do I Make Tempura?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Japanese method of deep-frying called tempura is not difficult to do as long as a few tips are kept in mind. One is that tempura is meant to be a light, fresh batter rather than a heavy, greasy one, so only new, clean cooking oil should be used. Also, ice cold water is essential to keep the batter from becoming too oily. Bite-sized pieces of seafood, tofu and vegetables are ideal foods to fry in the tempura cooking style.

Broccoli florets and mushrooms as well as slices of onion, carrot and green pepper are common tempura vegetables. Potatoes and sweet potatoes slices may also be fried in this method, but need to be parboiled before frying. To parboil sweet and regular potatoes, add slices to a pot of boiling water for about five minutes. Shrimp, squid, scallops and prawns are good choices for deep-frying. Tofu may be used instead of seafood, but it should be firm enough to hold its shape when cooking.

Tempura batter should be made as close as possible to the cooking time. About 1/2 to 1 cup (125 - 250 ml) of batter per person is a good general amount to keep in mind. Tempura batter recipes vary, but the basic way of making it is to beat egg yolks before blending them with flour and salt. Crushed ice with water added to it is then stirred into the flour mixture to complete the batter. The batter should then be used immediately to lightly dip each piece of food.

It’s important not to use too much batter on the food because excess batter will break off during cooking. The food pieces should be cooked in hot vegetable oil for a few minutes on each side until they are golden brown. The oil should be at least 2 or 3 inches (5.08 - 7.62 cm) deep in the frying container. Vegetables should always be cooked first when making tempura and the ideal frying temperature for vegetables is 340 degrees Fahrenheit (171.11 C). Seafood is best cooked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.67 C).

Tempura is best served immediately after the food is cooked. The freshly fried food may be eaten with salt and lemon or with a dipping sauce or daikon radish. Daikon radish is an Asian vegetable that is a little sweet tasting. Tentsuyu is a Japanese dipping sauce for tempura that is made from a soup stock and soy sauce base.

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