14 October 2013

Tempura 天ぷら - AFF Japan Oct 2013

Tempura 天ぷら is such a popular and likable Japanese dish that I believe even non-Japanese food lover will enjoy since it's deep fried :p And it's extremely versatile too. You can eat it as on its own (with a dipping sauce), or as Tendon which is tempura served on rice drizzled with some sauce, or as Tenzaru which is tempura with soba, or as tempura udon (shrimp tempura served inside the udon soup). These dishes can also be found almost anywhere in Japan.

The type of tempura we see in local Japanese eateries are usually prawns, white fish, mushroom, brinjal, lady's finger, green bell pepper and root vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato and yam. The ingredients are dipped in a simple light batter consisting of low protein flour, egg and water and then deep fried for a few minutes. Specially prepared tempura flour is also readily available in supermarkets, just need to add water to the flour according to instructions.

Although preparing the ingredients and batter look easy, to get the right consistency of the batter and right temperature of cooking oil when deep frying is no mean feat. Most often the tempura turns out not crispy enough or too oily.

For simplicity, I used only a few ingredients here - golden mushroom, pumpkin, brinjal, lady's finger and imitation snow crab stick.

The recipe is actually referenced from my all-time favourite comic book - Cooking Papa クッキングパパ :p
Cooking Papa is an ongoing Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tochi Ueyama. The chinese edition I have is translated by a Taiwan publisher. The Japanese series has 124 volumes now whereas the chinese series at 110. I'm an avid follower since 10 years ago as the illustrations are vivid and of course the food featured looked so yummy!

The story revolved around a salaryman based in Hakata (Fukuoka, Kyushu) who can cook well, and in a way spreading the love of food and culture among his family and friends. In each volume, there is usually 8 to 10 chapters featuring stories on a certain food and recipes for the dishes are provided. Through reading the comic series, I learnt more about the Japanese food culture in different parts of Japan. And it's not just Japanese food, international cuisine is also featured when the characters travel to Korea, China, Europe, America. There's even a few chapters on Singapore, featuring chicken rice (新记 at the old Margaret Drive Hawker Centre) and Bak Kut Teh. As the author is an avid cook himself and travels to different parts of the world, the food featured are definitely authentic :)

 The recipes are usually very detailed with lots of great tips for cooking :)


Ingredients (flexible according to your preference)
  • Golden Mushroom
  • Pumpkin
  • Brinjal
  • Lady's Finger
  • Imitation Crab Stick
  • 100g Low Protein Flour (plain flour/all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup (200ml) Cold Water
  • 1 egg
  1. Wash all the ingredients, cut into small pieces accordingly and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Mix flour, cold water and egg in a bowl and stir rapidly using chopsticks for a few secs. Do not over-mix, it's ok to see lumps or traces of flour. Drop an ice-cube in the batter to retain the cold temperature.
  3. Heat deep frying pan/pot with sufficient oil to cover the largest piece of ingredient. 
  4. Test the temperature of the oil by dropping a bit of batter into the oil. If the batter sinks to the bottom then floats slowly, temperature is about 160 degree celsius which is the right temperature for frying vegetables. If the batter sinks to the middle then floats quickly, temperature is about 170 degree celsius which is good for frying seafood.
  5. Dip the ingredients into the batter and gently drop into the oil. Fry till the batter turns slightly golden brown.
Dipping sauce
A dipping sauce is usually accompanied with tempura to reduce the oiliness
  • 1 cup (200ml) Dashi (make from scratch or use dashi powder/granules sold at supermarket)
  • 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Ryori-Sake
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 shiitake mushroom, soaked and softened
  • Grated Daikon
  • Grated Ginger
  1. Bring dashi and mushroom to gentle boil.
  2. Add soy sauce, ryori-sake, mirin according to taste.
  3. Before serving/dipping the tempura, add some grated daikon and ginger.
Dashi (reference from Japanese Home-style Cooking by Keiko Ishida)
  • 600ml Water
  • 8cm Dried Kelp, rinse well
  • 20g Bonita Flakes
  1. Put water and kelp into a pot and soak for 30 mins.
  2. Heat over medium heat and when small bubbles appear from the bottom, remove kelp
  3. Once the water starts to boil, add bonito flakes, reduce heat and simmer for a few seconds. 
  4. Remove from heat, then leave till bonito flakes sink to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Strain stock and discard solids.
  6. Use the necessary amount for dipping sauce, balance can be used for chawanmushi, miso soup etc. Or freeze till later use.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest #1 Oct 2013 : Japan, 


  1. Thanks for sharing, I must find this comic cookbook, kind of fun to read comic and same time able to learn cooking. And your tempura look like those served at restaurant!

  2. Hi Sonia, thanks!
    The comic book can be found at Comic Connection :)