21 February 2008

Tempura + Special Sides & Wild Tips

My husband has been working overtime since the we've returned from the CNY holiday. He seems tired after a few days of hard work and I decided to do some special dish to cheer him up. Tempura!

For your information, the Tempura is first introduced to Japan by the Portugese, and became a popular dish among the Japanese. Even the name ' Tempura ', is originated from the Portugese. The Japanese has long since been good in imitating something, customize it a little, then calling it ' theirs '.

So much for the introduction. Let's check out this basic recipe. I shall produce a little more complicated version and share again someday.

Recipe for Tempura ( Fried prawns ) [ Scroll below for Special Sides ]

Preparation of prawn ( 10 prawns for my serving at home ) :

  • Purchase prawns that are big. The ones I use are longer than my palm when extended. I'd love to tell you what prawns I'm using but I only know their name in Japanese ( 車えび )[ Huh, ' Car Prawns '? ]
  • Take off the shell of the prawns leaving the tail portion intact. Devein.
Wild tips : Keep the prawn shell scraps in the frozen section of the refridgerator. They come in handy for other dishes, especially seafood soup. Just drop 5 to 6 prawn shells in a pot that broils 4 servings, and they produce the extra goodness to the soup. Serve without the shells please. =) I shall share more about these shells sometime later.

  • Cut off the ends of the tail ( about 5mm ), see picture below. It is said that this eliminates moisture in the tail part and makes frying safer.
  • Insert 3mm cuts into the flesh ( tummy area? ), see picture below for positions. The idea is to cut the vein of the prawn so that these hunchback fellas can straighten their back.

  • Dry the prawns with kitchen paper towel. Dry them well for safer frying!
  • Powder the flesh part very lightly to achieve dryness. Leave tail part alone.

Preparation of batter ( For frying 10 prawns and sides ) :

  • Use specialized Tempura flour, or even ' weak ' Wheat flour. Follow the instructions for Tempura mentioned in product's packaging, if any. Else, you may like to try my lighter version.
  • For mine, there's no hard and fast measurements, just a 85% cup of flour, and full cup of water. I prefer lighter coat for fried stuff. Consistency varies between different product, so if you find your batter too watery, add flour little by little to achieve a light creamy mixture. Do mix batter well.

Preparation of oil :

  • I am using Ajinomoto's cholestrol-free oil which is very light. Use a depth-deep frying pan, got to pour in a generous volume of oil to pretend bathing the fellas. For my prawns, the oil level is about the height of my forefinger.
  • Heat oil to 180deg. Sorry guys, my stove heats to 180deg upon command. To know when your oil is ready, land a droplet of batter into the oil. If it surfaces and appears ' fried ', it's time!


  • Dip prawns into batter, and leave the tail part alone at best. You would want to see the reds after frying.
  • Depending on the size of you pan, fry prawns 2, 3 or 4 at a time to acheive better frying. Overcrowding causes prawns to stick together or unable to expand in size during frying.
  • Catch the prawn by tail, dip slowly into oil, and perform a gentle swing; forth and back. This causes the batter to produce great crust. Finally, let go of prawn in a straight forthward position. The rhythm should go ' Forward, back, forward, back, land. ' Attempt the next prawn. It takes some practise.
    * Note : This action is not a must. If you feel uncomfortable about it, please do not risk your poor fingers. Just slide the prawn quietly in will do. =)
  • I fry 3 prawns in my small pan. Collect upon less than 2 minutes' oil bath, and cool on kitchen towel. ( Hehehe, I've run out of nice oil papers. ) You may wish to cool on a rack.
  • You should see some crust remains in the oil after scooping up the prawns or other ingredients, as much as you can, try extracting those crust remains out as they tend to interfere the next batch's fry. Repeat after each batch.

Fry tip : Specified time may not be reliable especially when the desired temperature is not achieved. Size of ingredient makes a difference too. Generally, Tempura need not be that deeply fried in order to achieve the golden hue. It should appear cream white and lightly crusted. Should part of crust start to turn slightly brown, scoop the fella up.

Recipe for Special Side 1 : Stuffed green pepper

Ingredients ( makes 6 ) :

3 green pepper, 2 chicken fillet, 1/4 onion; minced, salt, pepper, 1tsp cornstarch

  • Mince chicken fillet, season with little salt and pepper. Rub cornstarch into minced meat. You may add 1tsp of water to ease rubbing. This effort helps retaining moisture of meat so that it will not become too hard after frying.
  • Mix minced meat with minced onion well. Fillings done.
  • Cut head and tail off green pepper. Half and rid off seeds.
  • Spread fillings into green pepper.
  • To fry, simply dip into batter and fry for 2 minutes.

Recipe for Special Side 2 : Bundled Enokitake

Ingredients ( makes 5 ) :

Enoki Mushroom, packet of Japanese seaweed( 5 pcs within )

  • I am only using part of the mushroom pack here. Cut roots of the mushroom, but to the extent that they still adhere together. Split carefully into comfortable bite-size bundles. Do not spread them loose, this makes bundling job easier
  • Bundle each piece of Enoki branch with seaweed. Wet the ending side of seaweed to create the adhering effect. If seaweed fails to yield. moist them carefully to make them soft for control.

Wild tips : Wrapping seaweed around ingredient gives surprizing flavour and special look to the dish, but dry, crisp seaweed may be a pain to manipulate. Extract needed seaweed out of drying agent, expose packed seaweed in the kitchen for 2 days before use. Refridgerating helps too.

  • Holding bundled side, dip into batter. Fry for 2 minutes.

In the Tempura dish, prawn is the main while others are sides. For the sides, the Japs use anything from mushrooms, lotus roots, herbs to potatoes. Do pull them together in a plate to make a gorgeous pile. The golden rule, always arrange the prawns with tails pointing up!

Enjoy the natural taste of Tempura. Or, serve with Japanese sauce like つゆ( Tsuyu ). You may lighten the taste by adding a little boiling water ( to serve at colder climate ), or just water ( at hotter climate ). For us, we like it straight. Some like it with grated daikons ( 大根 ) within the tsuyu, ( oh, spare me ). Other options : prepare a small dish of good mineral salt for dipping, barbecue sauce, Tartar's, you name it.

頂きます。( Itadakimasu : I'll be tucking in. )


Piggy said...

didn't know that tempura is originated from Portugal... heehee...

I'm drooling at the pics of the tempura... slurp!

derrick said...

wow. fantastic blog here. sorry didnt have the time to read and post valuable comments during the weekdays. haha. lots of interesting stuff here. but a little too nucleated. as in too much flashy stuff at the sides. haha. great work nevertheless. way out of my expectations. =P haha. keep up the good work. i will visit this site as often as i can. =D happy blogging!