How to Make Japanese Tempura

How to Make Japanese Tempura

The Japanese love of simplicity and freshness of ingredients is embodied in Tempura - morsels of fish or vegetable encased in a whisper of batter and fried to a light crisp finish.

Prawn Tempura


8 raw king prawns

plain flour

oil, for deep frying



1 cup iced water

1 egg yolk

1 cup plain flour, sifted

Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp mirin (sweet Japanese wine)

1 tbsp sake (Japanese rice wine)


Shell the prawns, leaving the tails intact. Remove the veins. Score the underside of the prawns with a sharp knife to prevent them curling. Press the prawns slightly to straighten them.

To make batter: Whisk together the water and egg yolk. Sprinkle flour over the top and stir in lightly with a fork or chopstick until just combined. (The mixture will be lumpy). Dust the prawns in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in the batter (pushing any lumps to one side) and allow the excess to drain away. Deep-fry in hot oil until golden and crisp. Drain well on paper towels.

To make dipping sauce: Combine the soy sauce, lemon juice, mirin and sake in a bowl. Serve with dipping sauce and wasabi.

Potato and Pumpkin and Onion Tempura

Cut potato and pumpkin into thin slices. Halve and slice the onions into rings. Dust in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in Tempura batter, allowing the excess to drain off. Deep-fry a few at a time in hot oil until crisp and tender, turning during cooking. Drain on paper towels.

Vegetable Bundles

Cut carrots, beans, zucchini and spring onions into strips about 5cm long. Arrange in bundles of 5-6 pieces on a plate. Sprinkle flour lightly over the prepared bundles. Grasp the bundles with tongs or chopsticks. Shake off excess flour. Dip in Tempura batter. Carefully dip each bundle into hot oil. Fry, turning, until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Seafood Tempura

Cut boneless fish fillets into strips or small pieces. Cut calamari into rings or thin strips. Dust pieces in flour, shaking off excess. Dip fish and calamari  in Tempura batter, allowing excess to drain off. Deep-fry a few pieces at a time until crisp, golden and cooked through (about 2 minutes for fish and 1 minute for calamari).

Hints and Tips for Tempura:

- The best Tempura is made using a thin crisping batter.

- Make the batter just before using as it becomes gluey if left for too long.

- Overstirring the batter will cause it to become too thick to use. The batter will be lumpy. An occasional stir will prevent the batter separating.

- Tempura should never be greasy - this is accomplished by keeping the oil at a high even temperature so it seals the outside.

- Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a small amount of batter. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is hot enough to use.


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