by Zayna Khan
Tempura is not only a Japanese dish, because it is cooked worldwide and also included in many national cuisines of different countries. Tempura is a dish that is very popular and also loved and cooked by many people around the world. This is a fried dish in which any seafood and vegetables are dipped into the batter of eggs and flour to deep fry it. It is served with a special Japanese sauce that is tentsuyu. Japanese dishes are so simple and delicious. It has no or less use of any spicy herbs and seasonings. The use of seafood is a must in making any dish. And cooking seafood consumes less time for cooking. This is a win-win situation for less cooking time and also less use of spices. In some sauces of Japanese cuisines, spices are added so we can never get a bland taste or just salt. It has the use of herbs but just to have a kick of spice or flavors. The use of soya sauce is also very common in Japanese dishes. Soya sauce is salty so we can easily skip the addition of salt in Japanese cuisine while using soya sauce in the dishes for more flavors.
Mirin, vinegar, sugar, salt, soya sauce, and sake is like the must element for any Japanese dish. We can change the ratio of each ingredient according to the recipe and flavors. There are also some dishes that are cooked by using beef meat.
This dish has many roots from the world while having the name, origin, and cooking techniques.
ORIGIN OF THE TEMPURA
During the 16th century, the Iberian introduced the cooking technique of making fritters. They have introduced this dish to Nagasaki, the city of Japan. Early, the deep-frying technique is used by Ancient people but without having any batter, or egg wash, and bread. Whatever they want to fry, just add directly into the oil and fry them. But when the fritters cooking technique was introduced, the use of any coating before frying and make it even crispier was like by the people. They started coating any deep-fried ingredient for having better flavor and taste. The batter was of flour, eggs, salt, and water. This will make the dish even better in taste and crispier.
During the 17th century, the use of seafood was increased and people used to preserve the kind of seafood with making a coating with them. They added to flour, eggs to the seafood and preserve them for further frying after some days. From that time the tempura picked up the hype.
Even today the recipe used to cooked tempura is from the Ancient time of Tokoyo Bay.
Tempura is one of “the Edo Delicacies” alive even today with the same recipe and ingredients.
In 1671, the cookbook called “料理献立抄” was written and it has the recipe still used in making the tempura. The use of cold water, batter made up of flour and eggs. Tokyo bay was made a great change in Japanese cuisine and still we have the dishes of “Tokyo style (Edo style)”
ETYMOLOGY OF TEMPURA
The word Tempura means, Dipping something into the batter and fry them.
In Spanish, Tempura originated from the word TEMPORAS that means Ember days during which no meat is consumed. Days like Fridays, and religious Christian holidays when red meat is not allowed so seafood and vegetables are consumed.
In Portuguese, TEMPOROS, or TEMPERO, means Seasonings or condiments to anything.
Tempura in Latin means “times”,or “time period”.
There are different terminologies of the name and meaning of Tempura.
TYPES OF TEMPURA
1.NASU (EGGPLANT TEMPURA)
This is included in the vegetable tempura. This is made of Eggplant, Aubergine or, brinjal. This is very delicious because a thick piece or slice of eggplant is cut and dip into the tempura batter. Fry it at moderate temperature to make it crispy. The color of is batter should not be changed because low heat is required for the proper making of tempura.
The size and shape of eggplant or aubergine are according to the choice. But mostly cut into half and thick slices are used. The skin of eggplant must be not be peeled because it is the presentation of the dish by the good vibrant color of eggplant skin.
2.KINOKO (MUSHROOM TEMPURA)
Mushroom is a very popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. The most delicious dish in which mushroom is added as the main ingredient is this Kinoko mushroom tempura. The juiciness and softness from inside and crispy layer outside make it a very delicious combination.
Two mostly used Mushrooms in this dish are :
3.KABOCHA (PUMPKIN TEMPURA)
Kabocha is the Japanese Pumkin. It is used in many vegetarian dishes. This is also be used as the main ingredient for the dish Kabocha tempura. This is a green-colored pumpkin with the mildly sweet flesh of orange color.
Thin slices of kabocha are used in making tempura with batter to fry them. This vegetable is also known as WINTER’S JAPANESE SQUASH.
4. FUGU (PUFFERFISH TEMPURA)
Fugu is the Japanese favorite ingredient. It is also known as Japanese Poisoned fish, pufferfish, or fugu.
Pufferfish is poisonous fish because of having a strong neurotoxin, it can be deadly because of its effects. This dish is must be prepared by a trained chef. Tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin that is harmful to humans. There some dead in Japan, 2000 caused by eating this.
OTHER LIST OF TEMPURA TYPES ARE :
- Prawn tempura
- Shrimp tempura
- Takenoko/ bamboo shoot tempura
- Green beans tempura
- Satsuma Imo/ Sweet potato tempura
- Lotus shoot tempura
- Ika/ Squid tempura
VARIATION OF TEMPURA OUTSIDE JAPAN :
There is a dish of Bangali cuisine known as kumro ful bhaja, which means Bangali style tempura. They use flesh or marrow of pumpkin. They use gram flour with their traditional spices for batter and crispy layers.
A dish named as tiānfùluó (天婦羅) is one of the tempura dishes from Taiwan. This is Japanese tempura sold in Taiwan.
Another dish, tianbula is also a Japanese dish but it is similar to the satsuma-age sold and cooked in Taiwan. Tianbula literary means ‘sweet, not spicy’ because it is a nonspicy dish with sweetness and amazing flavors.
In America, there are many different variations of Tempura that are not even cooked and sold in Japan. They used to have tempura dipped into panko breadcrumbs. They filled tempura with chicken and Chinese as the filling and stuffing. They called it the dish from FUSION CUISINE of American and Japanese cuisine.
MAIN ELEMENTS OF TEMPURA IN JAPAN
There is a list of seafood used by Japanese cuisine for making tempura :
- Cat fish
There are also some vegetables used in making vegetarian tempura :
- Bamboo shoot
- Butternut squash
- Kabocha squash
- Lotus shoot
The batter of tempura is made up of flour either all purpose flour, wheat flour, eggs, cold water, some salt, and some baking powder. The cold batter makes the tempura crispy and fluffy.
The use of cold water in diluting batter is for activation of gluten that will make the tempura fluffy when fried and dough-like soft. There is no seasoning added to the batter for flavoring because it is served with sauce. The sauce
- Ayu : 200 grams (thin slices)
- Kambocha : 10 thick slices
- All purpose flour : 1 cup
- Eggs : 2
- Salt : 1 tsp
- Cold water : to make medium consistency of batter
- Baking powder : 1/2 tsp
- Oil : for frying
FOR TENTSUYU SAUCE
- Dashi broth : 2 cups
- Brown sugar : 2 tbsp
- Soya sauce : 1/2 cup
- Mirin : 2 tbsp
- Sake : 2 tbsp
- To make tempura batter, add flour, salt, eggs into the mixing bowl and start mixing it while adding cold water. We have to make a moderate consistency of batter not too thick or thin.
- Cold water is necessary to make the tempura fluffy and crispy at the same time.
- The batter should be lump free and very smooth for proper coating it over main ingredient like ayu and kabocha
- Take cooking pan full of oil to deep fry tempura. The temperature of oil must be between 375 and 390 degrees for exact texture and crispiness.
- While making tempura we have to focus on techniques rather than the ingredients.
- When the temperautre reached till 350 degrees, dip the slices of kambocha and ayu into batter and put it in the oil for frying.
- We need to cook it for 3 to 5 minutes until the light golden color is appeared.
- Tempura is prepared and now moved towards the sauce.
FOR TENTSUYU SAUCE
- In a cooking bowl, add dashi broth and bring it to oil on moderate temperature.
- When dashi started to boil, add sugar, sake, mirin and soya sauce into it for further cooking.
- Cook this sauce for 5 minutes and remove it from stove.
- Let this be cool down and then serve with tempura.