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Authentic Chicken Tempura Recipe

Authentic Chicken Tempura Recipe with Step-by-Step Instructions
Finished Chicken Tempura on a white plate with tentsuyu.

When people think of tempura, savory vegetables and seafood coated in a light batter often comes to mind. However, chicken tempura definitely holds its own among the more traditional shrimp and veggie tempura dishes. Soy and ginger seasoning give chicken tempura an unexpected kick of flavor that goes great with the light tempura batter. This Japanese surprise is definitely worth a try.

Finished Chicken Tempura on a white plate with tentsuyu.

What is Chicken Tempura?

Chicken tempura on a white plate with tempura dipping sauce.

Chicken tempura, or toriten, is seasoned chicken deep fried in a light tempura batter. I describe it to my kids as a Japanese chicken nugget. While I do serve it with a tempura dipping sauce (tentsuyu), the savory soy sauce, ginger and garlic seasoning of the chicken provides plenty of flavor and moisture so chicken tempura can be enjoyed on its own without any dipping sauce.

Primarily enjoyed as a regional dish in Southwestern Japan (the oita prefecture to be exact), chicken tempura does not enjoy the worldwide popularity of shrimp tempura or vegetable tempura. However, my family enjoys chicken tempura just as much as as the more popular shrimp and veggie tempuras.

How to Make Chicken Tempura?

The act of preparing and batter and frying the chicken may seem a little daunting but it goes pretty quick once you get going. In fact, if you have all the ingredients, you can whip this out in under 30 minutes. Below we break out the process for you step-by-step.

Prepare the Chicken

1. The first step in making chicken tempura is to heat oil in a sauce pan to 350 degrees.

Add oil to a pot and heat on medium heat to 350 degrees to cook chicken tempura.

2. As the oil is heating, flatten the chicken breasts and cut them into strips.

Cutting the chicken into strips to make chicken tempura.

3. Add the chicken strips to a mixing bowl and combine with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Combine thoroughly until chicken is coated in the seasoning mixture.

Add soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper into mixing bowl and mix to coat chicken.  This will add a savory seasoning to the chicken tempura.

Make Tempura Batter

1. To make the tempura batter, I always first assemble the ingredients and chill the water. You may need to add ice if you don’t have access to very cold water. However, make sure to remove ice cubes before combining with egg. I usually strain the ice water into the egg to assure the water is ice cold but no ice gets into the batter.

2. Crack one egg into a small bowl and beat until the yolk and white are combined.

Mix egg for tempura batter.

3. Add cold water to the egg and mix well.

Add ice water to the egg for tempura batter.

4. Sift one cup of flour into the egg and water combination.

Sift flour into tempura batter.

5. Using a spoon or chopstick, lightly mix making sure not to over stir. The batter should be mixed but a little lumpy.

Mix tempura batter with a chopstick but be sure not to overmix.  The batter should be a little lumpy.

Cook Tempura Chicken

1. Dip each strip into the batter making sure the chicken is coated. Then gently add to the oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure not to cook too many pieces at a time. Depending on the size of the chicken strips, I usually cook 3-4 at pieces a time.

Cook the tempura chicken in oil for 3-4 minutes.

2. Remove chicken strips from oil once they are done cooking and place on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

After the chicken is done cooking, remove from oil.

3. Serve with tempura dipping sauce (tentsuyu) and enjoy!

Chicken Tempura Recipe

Finished Chicken Tempura on a white plate with tentsuyu.

Chicken Tempura Recipe

Authentic Chicken Tempura Recipe with Step-by-Step Instructions
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Chicken Tempura, Tempura
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 510kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Mixing bowl
  • 1 Sifter
  • 1 Measuring cup
  • 1 Chopstick for mixing
  • 1 Whisk for mixing
  • 1 Tongs

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1 Pound Chicken breasts Sliced into strips
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Ginger Fresh grated

Tempura Batter

  • 1 Cup All purpose flour
  • 1 Eggs Large
  • 1 Cup Water Ice cold

Instructions

Prepare the Chicken

  • Heat oil in a sauce pan to 350 degrees.
  • Flatten chicken breasts and cut into strips.
  • Add chicken to a mixing bowl and combine with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Combine thoroughly until chicken is coated in seasoning mixture.

Make Tempura Batter

  • Assemble the ingredients and chill the water. You may need to add ice if you don't have access to very cold water. However, make sure to remove ice cubes before combining with egg.
  • Crack one egg into a small bowl and beat until the yolk and white are combined.
  • Add cold water to the egg and mix well (I usually strain the ice water directly into the egg bowl to assure you get ice-cold water but no cubes).
  • Sift one cup of flour into the egg and water combination.
  • Using a spoon or chopstick, lightly mix making sure not to over stir. The batter should be mixed but a little lumpy.

Cook Tempura Chicken

  • Dip each strip into the batter making sure the chicken strip is fully coated in the batter. Then gently add to the oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure not to cook too many pieces at a time.
  • Remove the chicken strips from oil once they are done cooking and add to a paper towel-lined plate. This will help absorb any excess oil.
  • Serve with tempura dipping sauce (tentsuyu) and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 4oz | Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 520mg | Potassium: 700mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 146IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chicken tempura gluten-free?

Like all tempura dishes, chicken tempura will not likely be gluten-free if ordered from a restaurant as the tempura batter contains flour and the chicken itself is coated with soy sauce. However, this can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free versions of the soy sauce and flour.

Is chicken tempura healthy?

While chicken itself is a lean protein and very healthy, the tempura batter and the act of deep frying the chicken tempura adds a lot of calories with little nutritional benefit. As such, chicken tempura is not considered a very healthy meal.

Final Thoughts on Chicken Tempura

Chicken tempura is a regional Japanese dish that your whole family will love. Often an overlooked tempura dish, once you try it you will be glad you did. We hope that you have found this recipe helpful! Happy cooking!

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