What is Tempura?
Tempura is a piece of seafood or vegetables that covered in batter and fried in oil. Tempura can be found at many restaurants from high-end Michelin tempura restaurants, Udon/soba restaurants, to izakayas. Tempura on rice bowls is Tendon which is very popular among Japanese. This page introduces main varieties of Tempura and how to eat.
Variety of Tempura
Most popular ingredient for Tempura is this Ebi. Shrimp itself is juicy and batter makes crunchy which goes really well together.
Fish fillets or whole small fishes are battered and fried in oil. White fleshed fish is usually used.
Any kinds of edible mushrooms are used. Shiitake, maitake, and matsutake are the most popular ones. Please note that matsutake is expensive mushroom…!
Nasu is a Japanese eggplant that I would like you to try. It is my favorite Tempura. It could be made into Tempura by cutting in half size or as it is depending on the size.
Pumpkin’s sweet flavor goes really well with the batter. The texture of Kabocha tempura is very fun! It is typically cut into half circle size.
Tendon (Tempuras on Rice-bowls)
Tendon is one of the most loved Japanese cuisine not only by Japanese but also by the world…! Tempura sauce perfectly match with rice bowl and tempura.
How to eat
Usually, Tempura is not flavored so we dip it into Tempura sauce and eat. Grated radish is put in the sauce to make more flavor. We also use salt or matcha (green tea) salt or lemon juice to enjoy the different taste. If a restaurant offers different sauces, try them!
At usual restaurants, all Tempura will be served in one plate with other dishes like Udon/Soba noodles. It may be better to eat Tempura first because warmer tempura is more delicious than cold one. At high end restaurants, usually they only have counter seats and Tempura cooked in front of you would be offered one by one. It is a manner to order little taste ingredients in the beginning and eat tempura right away when offered to respect the chef.
Tempura is a deep cuisine that the boiling time, batter, or how to cut ingredients differ among restaurants. These make big differences of texture and flavor. Enjoy this typical Japanese dish and hopefully enjoy differences between restaurants!