Wednesday, 1 April 2015

#ewew cooks Vegetable & Prawn Tempura

Tempura is a very popular dish in Japanese restaurants and it's one of my favourite orders when dining out at Japanese eateries.

I was probably overcame by a moment of madness when I decided to try and replicate the dish at, get ready for my attempt at making Vegetable & Prawn Tempura.

If you search the internet for a tempura batter recipe, you'll be amazed at how many versions there are out there.  Based on the many different recipes, here's what they don't agree on:
1)  The type of flour used for the tempura batter...some use plain flour while others use self-raising flour, rice flour, cornstarch, potato starch or a combination of more than one.
2)  Some use whole eggs, some use only the yolks and some don't use eggs at all.
3)  Some use plain (tap) water while others use carbonated water, mineral water or even club soda.
Or, if this is all too confusing, just buy ready-made tempura flour!
But here's what they (or most) agree on:
1)  A flour to water ratio of about 1:1 (and the water must be very cold)
2)  Don't over-mix the batter
3)  Make it just when you're ready to fry and keep the batter ice-cold at all times

So, after scouring the internet for recipes, I settled on this combination for my tempura batter:
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp potato starch (or cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
Beat one egg and add the icy cold water (and a few ice cubes won't hurt) to the mixture.  Mix the plain flour, cornstarch and baking powder together and add it to the egg mixture.
Mix lightly.  Be careful not to over-mix the batter.  So far, so good =)  [#Tip: Some say using chopsticks is the best way of mixing the batter and mix only for a few secs (at most 1 min).  Lumps in the batter is completely fact, it's on purpose coz these lumps of batter turn into crispy morsels of delight when it hits the hot oil! ;)  I think I once saw (on TV) a Japanese lady making tempura and she was even more precise...1, 2, 3....that's it...just stir the batter 3 times and don't touch it, she says!] ;D
Sit your bowl of batter on top of another bowl of ice as a cold batter is crucial if you want your tempura to be crispy.  You are now ready for frying.

You can use any type of vegetables you like...or so I thought!  On my chopping board, I have green peppers, zucchinis, carrots, string beans, eggplant, Japanese daikon, potatoes and spring onions. 

Eggplant Slices
Spring Onions
Carrots & Japanese Daikon
Zucchinis & Potatoes
Green Pepper Slices

I was too lazy to heat up a wok full of oil, so I used a small pan to fry my tempura in batches.  So, here you have attempt at making Vegetable TempuraWas it successful?  Yes and No!

YES....the tempura batter was a success :)  The batter was light and crisp!  As I was frying, I was eating some of well as those little bits of crispy batter that broke off from the vegetables.

And didn't stay crisp for long :(  If you eat it immediately, I would say my tempura was a success but if you leave it until you've finished frying the entire batch of vegetables, not so much.

Serve your tempura vegetables with a simple dipping sauce.  I just used a bottled sushi and sashimi soy sauce and added a little water and then grated some daikon over it.

[#Tip: Not all vegetables work with tempura.  Those vegetables with a firmer texture works better in my opinion.  I enjoyed the carrots, daikon, potatoes, string beans, green peppers and eggplant but not the zucchinis and spring onions.]

Seeing that I still had some tempura batter left, I took out some (deveined) prawns (that was defrosting in the fridge) and made a few snips at the abdomen (underside) of the prawn.  This will help prevent your prawn from curling up during the frying process.  [#Note: Although mine didn't curl up as much, it was also not totally straight as I did not press down on the prawns (hard) after I made the snips.]

Also, for presentation purposes, you should leave the tail intact but, since these prawns were not meant for this purpose (in the first place), I've already removed the tails.  Somehow, the batter didn't adhere as well with the prawns probably because the prawns were fried last (by then the batter was not as cold anymore).

And here's my Tempura Prawns served with the same dipping sauce.

There's a reason why there's only a few miserable that I can showcase my beautiful Japanese plate....nice?.....wakakakaka! :D  [#P/S: It's not very often I get to use these plates.  I've no idea why I bought a set of Japanese plates and bowls, it's not that I'm very good at cooking Japanese anyway.  But, you know women-lah, love to buy these things, especially me, as I can't resist.  I have different tableware for different cuisines like Chinese, Japanese and!]

My take on why my tempura wasn't as successful

If I had to nail down a reason why my tempura didn't turn out as well, I would have to say it was the frying process (as I think I pretty much nailed the tempura batter).  It's not easy to fry at a constant (and right) frying temperature at home (without the use of a thermometer) coz we're just 'winging' it!  [#Tip: Getting a tempura recipe is the easy part but nobody tells you how to fry them perfectly!]

If I had just fried a small portion and eaten it immediately (when the crispiness was at its best), then I would say it's a success.  Now I know why I should leave making tempura in the hands of professionals (and pay for tempura at a restaurant) that they can bring it to me the moment it's fried! ;D

Lesson learnt!!! :'(


  1. Bravo bravo....looks very good. Mine all kaput.. maybe the fire control not good

    1. Oh weren't as successful either? Looks easy but it's not, right!

  2. My girl loves these! Long weekend coming up, maybe we can cook this. We're off on Good Friday - public holiday and schools here are taking Monday off, Easter Monday. Nice!

    1. I, I think you'll be more successful at it than me since you're a good cook. Lucky you, we don't get public holiday here for Good Friday! Going anywhere for Easter Sunday celebrations?

  3. For some very strange reason, I don't like tempura even though I love deep fried food! I think it's because I don't like the batter. Good thing actually or else I'll be wanting to make tempura after reading your post hah..hah...

    1. Yes, that is strange...not liking fried tempura. The batter is the thing I like most about tempura coz it's a lot lighter and crispier (if done right) than any other batter...that's why I love tempura ;)

  4. I would buy ready packed tempura powder, coz I'm not good at making batter for deep frying, cucur , all those stuffs.. I love fried stuffs, I can finish all your brinjal, spring onions and potatoes, and prawns of course..

    1. Actually, making the batter was the easy part...I'm not good at the frying part! ;D I suppose it's more convenient to just buy ready made tempura flour.

  5. These look yummy! I suppose you could just about make anything into tempura.

    1. I guess so....but not all vegetables work though!

  6. The amount of oil I need to use prevented me from attempting to make tempura so far. So yeah, better leave it to the professionals at the restaurants. :D

    1. That's why I used a small saucepan to fry my tempura in small batches as I didn't want a whole lot of oil left behind....and that turned out to be my demise as it took longer to fry everything and, in the process, my tempura lost some of its crispiness T_T

  7. You are indeed a brave woman to fry your own tempura. Even those tempura made in top Japanese restaurant will not be crispy if left uneaten for a while.

    Hahaha, did you use a suitable olive oil to fry your tempuras? ;p

    1. Not brave....more like what was I thinking! ;D Actually, I don't use olive oil for deep frying. One, it's expensive and two, I heard that it's not good for deep frying, so I use the next best thing...corn oil.

    2. That's why I wrote suitable olive oil because there are some olive oil which are designed for deep frying. :)

    3. Oh, but I don't know which ones are suitable plus I won't really just buy special olive oil for deep-frying coz olive oil is expensive. I just have one extra virgin olive oil for salads and one olive oil for pan-frying.


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