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The Perfect Tempura Recipe

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What accounts for the perfect tempura recipe? Is it the light and crunchy crust that you get from the perfect batter? Is the mixture of the batter? The ice-cold water teamed with the right mix of flour? Is it the right oil used for frying? Or the vegetables and meat you use?

All of these are important factors that go into the making of the perfect tempura, but do you want to hear the real secret? Corn starch. Japanese restaurants have been using this trick for many years, and now you know the trick to perfect tempura.

The staple that was originally developed for starching and industrial purposes has migrated its way into cooking and into delicious dishes. Corn starch is tasteless in tempura, but adds a special airy crust that will make your recipe outstanding.

There are many recipes for making the perfect tempura, but check out this one if you’ve been wanting to try your hand at making homemade tempura. It includes white rice flour that can be found at Asian food supply stores. Also, make sure you cut your vegetables and meats into spears/pieces that are easy to handle and can cook through in 6-8 minutes. Included are suggestions for what vegetables to use, but any kind of veggies are great in tempura batter — even herbs like parsley and basil work great. Have left-over vegetables from another dish? Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you may have in your refrigerator.

tempura recipe

Tempura Recipe Ingredients

For the Batter

5 oz. unbleached cake flour
5 oz. white rice flour
1 tsp. corn starch
1 large egg (beaten)
1 1/2 cup seltzer water
1 1/2 quarts vegetable for frying
sea salt for sprinkling

Vegetables/Meat & Seafood
zucchini (sliced into 1/2 x 3 inch spears)
onions (rings or rings sliced in half)
sweet potato (cut into 1/2 x 3 inch spears)
green bell peppers (sliced into 1/2 inch slices)
mushrooms
peeled and de-veined shrimp, tail on
Tilapia (cut into 1 inch pieces or strips)
chicken (cut into 1 inch pieces or strips)

Ingredients Dipping sauce
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. dry sherry
1 tbsp. sugar
zest of 1 lemon, organic

Cooking Instructions
Heat oil to 375 degrees F in a five quart dutch oven.
Mix together cake, rice flour, and corn starch.
In another bowl, mix egg and seltzer water.
Combine egg and seltzer water mixture with dry ingredients until well incorporated. There will be lumps. Keep mixture sitting on top of a larger bowl lined with ice.
Once the oil is ready, individually dip each piece of vegetable/meat in the batter, making sure to let excess batter drip off, and place in oil. Cook to a golden brown, approximately 6-7 minutes per batch.
Let drain on a paper towel.
For the dipping sauce, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and serve.

The secrets to light, delicious tempura:

  • Don’t overcrowd the pieces in the oil.
  • Don’t over mix the batter.
  • Keep the batter ice-cold and the oil hot.
  • Corn starch will add that special crisp to the batter crust.

Youa is a writer from Minneapolis trying her hand at all kinds of international cooking, often with delicious results. In her free time she writes for sites like Become a Better Baker.

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