What Is Tempura?

Who doesn’t like fried food, right! It’s a Tempura is one of the most popular dishes in Japanese cuisine served in restaurants around the world. Light, crisp fried seafood or vegetables with delicious dipping sauce, like this Prawns Tempura, makes for an excellent starter.

Fritters Around the World

One of the reasons for Tempura’s global popularity is that almost in all food cultures people have fritters of some sort, so it is easier to relate to the taste and texture. However, the rules for making a good tempura batter are very different from all the other batters we make, for example for pakoras, gorengan, fish and chips, or corn fritters.

How To Prepare Tempura Batter

It is recommended to prepare the tempura batter right before you start frying, in icy cold water, which stops activation of the wheat gluten and keeps batter light and fluffy. Also the tempura batter is not mixed to a smooth consistency, as lumpy batter gives tempura that typical lacy texture.

Prawns Tempura Serving Suggestions

It is traditionally served with green tea and salt, or special tempura sauce, though it tastes equally great with any hot sauce. I make my quick and easy tempura sauce with some shiitake dashi or simple mushroom stock.

Using the same recipe for sauce and batter, you can also make vegetable tempura.


One-pan Teriyaki Chicken & Vegetables 

Poteto Sarada, Japanese Style Potato Salad 

Yakitori Chicken, Japanese Skewered Chicken 


For Prawns Marinade:

12 large prawns, heads removed, de-veined
1 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lemon

For Tempura Batter:

1 cup ice cold water
1 egg yolk
8 tablespoons plain flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
vegetable oil for deep frying

For Tempura Sauce:

1/2 cup mushroom stock (for ex, shiitake dashi)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated white radish (daikon/mooli)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil


Marinate the prawns in salt and lemon juice for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and pat dry.

Mix all the ingredients of sauce, simmer for 5 minutes and set aside.

Prepare the batter right before you need to make tempura. Mix cold water and egg yolk in a bowl, add flours and soda.

Briefly mix with a fork or chopsticks, do not make a smooth batter. Lumpy batter gives more texture to tempura.

Heat the oil at medium heat for deep frying. Check if the oil is hot enough by throwing in a bit of batter. If it rises back to the surface immediately then your oil is ready for frying.

Take a shrimp, coat in dry flour, dip in the batter and fry in oil till light golden and crisp. Fry in batches, do not overcrowd the pan. Drain on a wire sieve, serve hot with dip or salt on side.

Makes 4 servings as starter.

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