When you think of Japanese food, tempura most likely comes to mind. Shrimp and vegetable tempura was my go-to dish when dining in Japanese restaurants as a kid. As an adult, I appreciate the light batter and rich taste of tempura dishes. As any chef knows, great tempura starts with great tempura batter.
In this article we will take you through how to make authentic tempura batter step-by-step. Best of all, it’s simple and quick to make!
Table of Contents
What is Tempura Batter?
Introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the late 16th century, tempura refers to a style of cooking using tempura batter to coat and deep fry a variety of seafood and vegetables. Tempura batter has a light color and airy, delicate texture that differentiates it from most Western batters.
Popularized in Japanduring the Tokyo period (or Edo period) from 1603 to 1867, tempura was found in food stalls and food carts along Tokyo Bay and riverside markets. In fact, for many years, the tempura method of cooking was deemed a fire hazard and was restricted to outdoor stalls and carts. The tempura cooking technique proved to be a great and tasty way to take advantage of the abundance of seafood available in Japanese markets. It was often skewered and served with a tempura dipping sauce.
Modern tempura that is enjoyed in Japan and around the world can be traced back to those Tokyo roots.
How to Make Tempura Batter
Tempura batter consists of three main ingredients: flour, egg and ice-cold water. To get the light, airy texture, it’s important that you use very cold water and make sure the flour is sifted prior to adding. I usually sift the flour straight into my egg and water mixture to assure the flour is light and well sifted.
When mixing the flour into your egg mixture, make sure you don’t over mix. I like to use a chopstick to barely combine the egg and flour. It should be lumpy after mixing.
Below are the simple steps to make authentic tempura batter:
1. 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.
2. Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat until the yolk and white are combined.
3. Add one cup of cold water to the egg and mix well. I like to pour ice water through a strainer to catch the ice cubes.
4. Sift one cup of flour to the egg and water combination.
5. Using a spoon or chopstick, lightly mix making sure not to over stir. The batter should be mixed but a little lumpy.
Tempura Batter Recipe
Tempura Batter Recipe
- 1 Mixing bowl
- 1 Sifter
- 1 Measuring cup
- 1 Chopstick for mixing
- 1 Whisk for mixing
- 1 cups All purpose flour
- 1 Egg Large
- 1 cup Water Ice cold
- 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 the egg into a small bowl and beat until the yolk and white are combined.
- Add cold water to the egg and mix well.
- Sift flour to 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is tempura batter gluten free?
Tempura batter uses flour as one if its main ingredients so it’s not gluten-free. However, you can make a gluten-free version of tempura batter by using gluten-free flour.
Is tempura healthy?
While many of the vegetables and seafood used in tempura are healthy, tempura as a style of cooking is not healthy as it involves coating your food with a flour/egg batter and deep frying. This adds a lot of calories to the dish.
Final Thoughts on Tempura Batter
Whenever I step into a Japanese restaurant and smell the aromas of vegetable oil and tempura batter, I know I am in for a treat. I love exploring new vegetables and fish combinations to prepare in the tempura style. We hope that you have found this recipe and video helpful as you continue your journey into Japanese cuisine! Happy cooking!
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