Tempura – what is it? How to prepare it?

Tempura Japanese dish, originating in Portugal. Tempura is pieces of various seafood, fish, vegetables and mushrooms surrounded in a light dough made of wheat flour and deep fried. Check how to make tempura.

Tempura is extremely popular in Japan, both among residents of this country and tourists. However, this is not a native Japanese dish. It came from Portugal in the 16th century along with three sailors. In 1543, a Chinese ship with the Portuguese on board went to Macau, but was taken off course by the Japanese Tanegashima.

Then the first Europeans stood on Japanese soil. They were Antoni da Mota, Francisco Zeimoto and Antonio Peixoto. The Japanese during the civil war began to trade with the Portuguese, which over time also led to the exchange of recipes. Portuguese coming to Japan very often prepared a dish called peixinhos da horta, which is green beans in breadcrumbs fried in deep fat. It was this dish that inspired Japanese tempura.

The word tempura comes from the Latin tempora, which refers to the time of fasting in the Christian religion. During fasting periods, when eating meat was banned, beans fried in dough were a substitute for it. This dish was popular among sailors sailing to distant sides, because it allowed to extend the shelf life of vegetables. Frying was a form of food preservation.

Before the Portuguese appeared on the island, its inhabitants also fried vegetables in deep fat, but without coating. The Japanese have perfected the dough for tempura and use many other ingredients, not just beans. However, the dish comes from Portuguese cuisine. Interestingly, tempura has grown into Japanese cuisine so much that some residents of the Land of the Rising Sun have no idea that it is not native to Japanese.

Tempura – what is it?

Tempura is basically a way of preparing food. Because you can prepare many different foods in tempura. These are pieces of various seafood, fish, vegetables and mushrooms surrounded in a light flour batter coating and deep-fried.

The temperature of the dough is very important, as it guarantees that the fried pieces are crispy and firm. The cake must be freezing. The oil temperature is also very important and should be around 170 degrees C.

Vegetables and seafood fried in tempura are crunchy, light, full of flavor and aroma. What ingredients go to tempura? Most often they are shrimp and squid, but also pieces of fish.

In tempura, you can fry various vegetables, including broccoli, peppers, zucchini, eggplants, green beans, pumpkin, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms, kinoko and others. Japanese are very precise in the kitchen, including when preparing tempura. All pieces that are rolled in dough and fried are cut to similar sizes.

This makes the crispy bites fried in the same degree. Among tempura masters, it is unacceptable for individual pieces to be undercooked or over cooked.

The key ingredient in tempura is the coating in which pieces are dipped before frying. It has the consistency of a batter and may contain lumps of flour. They are desirable. The basic coating recipe consists of ice water, wheat flour and egg yolk. However, it can be modified in many ways by adding sparkling water, baking soda, corn starch or potato starch (which help to achieve the right crunchiness).

To achieve the correct effect, the coating must be freshly prepared and very cold. Low temperature and short contact time with water prevent the activation of gluten in wheat flour and prevent the rubbery texture of tempura. The dough should also be well aerated, with lots of air bubbles. If it settles in the dish and becomes flat, you need to prepare new ones.

Fishes with some crisp? Count me in!
Fishes with some crisp? Count me in!

Currently, tempura is served in Japan both in elegant restaurants and in street booths. Restaurants specializing in tempura are called tempura-ya. However, it can be found in virtually every Japanese gastronomic establishment and at the same time it is one of the most popular Japanese street food dishes. There are two main styles of Japanese tempura – Kanto and Kansai.

In the Kanto region, seafood and vegetables are fried in tempura. For this purpose, sesame oil is used, and crunchy snacks are served with a special sauce based on dashi broth and soy sauce. In the Kansai region, tempura vegetables fried in oil with a neutral taste and served with salt, pepper or nori kelp are the most common. Tempura is also served with ponzu, i.e. citrus soy sauce and grated white radish.

Tempura can be eaten as a dip dipped in sauce. It can also be a full dish when served with rice, buckwheat noodles or udon flour noodles. Rice is laid out in the center of the plate and served with freshly fried tempura. Pasta can be served in a hot bowl in broth or cold in a traditional bamboo basket.

Tempura – how to prepare it?

Preparation of tempura includes three elements, cut into equal pieces selected ingredients, make a sauce and prepare a batter dough. In this order, follow the cooking steps. It is very important to mix the ingredients of the dough just before cooking.

Beat the yolk slightly, mix with water. Sift the flour through a sieve. Add gradually to the water with the egg. You do not need to mix to obtain a smooth consistency. Lumps are desirable.

Boil myrrh, add dashi broth and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan to 260 C. Coat all prepared and chopped ingredients in dough. Fry the pieces one at a time until slightly golden brown. Start by frying vegetables, then fry the mushrooms and finally seafood and fish. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon or long chopsticks. Drain on a paper towel. Serve hot.