Tempura is an excellent snack if you’re in the mood for fast food but don’t want to deal with that heavy post-meal bloating. Continue reading to learn a little more about the origins of this dish and how to use tempura flour correctly to create an authentic meal.

History of tempura

Tempura is often associated with Japan. While it is certainly a dish you would find on the menu at many Japanese restaurants, its origins actually lie in a completely different country, some thousands of kilometres away.

The word tempura is derived from the Latin word tempora, which means ‘time’. ‘Tempora’ was used by Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to describe important religious periods, including Lent. The method of frying battered fish and vegetables is believed to have originated in Portugal, with this food being enjoyed on religious holidays when red meat was forbidden.

So how did tempura come to be associated with Japan? Well, there are many versions of this story. The common element between all is the time period — in the 16th century, a Chinese ship containing three Portuguese missionaries was swept off course and ended up at the Nagasaki port. This is believed to have been the first time that Europeans stepped foot in Japan. The three missionaries brought with them a number of cultural innovations, including the idea of covering food in batter and frying it.

A hundred or so years later, Japanese authorities banished all foreigners from their country and closed all trade routes, meaning the Portuguese were forced to leave. Tempura, however, remained.

Tempura tips and tricks

If you’re not lucky enough to live in Japan, there are a few tips and tricks you can adopt to create the perfect tempura meal.

To start with, be selective in your ingredients. Traditionally, seafood and vegetables are used as ingredients in tempura. You can, of course, use your personal favourites, but if you want an authentic Japanese experience, consider any of the following:

  • Shrimp
  • Prawn
  • Squid
  • Scallop
  • Capsicum
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Pumpkin

The next step is to create the perfect batter. Now, while you can use regular flour, it’s recommended that you invest in specialist tempura flour. Tempura flour includes a number of ingredients, typically wheat flour, starch, egg, and salt, which should help you achieve that perfect crunch. You can mix tempura flour with either regular water or sparkling water — just make sure that it’s reasonably cold.

Avoid overmixing your batter. This can activate the gluten and turn the mixture into a sticky dough. Instead, combine very small amounts of tempura flour and water, mixing for only a few seconds and instantly adding to the fryer.

It’s recommended that you use either vegetable oil, canola oil, or sesame oil to fry your ingredients. Ensure ingredients are dry before dipping them into the batter and the oil. Achieving that light tempura crunch should only require thirty seconds to a minute in the fryer. Avoid crowding your pot and use a strainer to clear the oil of burnt batter between batches.

Allow your tempura to briefly drain on a rack before serving with your choice of sauce. Enjoy!

Author's Bio: 

Hi, I am Aria. I am a passionate blogger. Blogging is my profession. I love to write articles on several topics. Keep up the good work and Have a great day!