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How to Make Tempura Batter

Deep-Frying Asian style

I love tempura, when it’s done properly it’s such a clean tasting, fresh way of cooking and best of all it lends itself to so many different foods but most of all with my favourite, seafood.
I have been cooking and consuming tempura for many a year, the locations have varied but a good tempura dish lasts long in the memory. Squid is great cooked in tempura as are prawns. You can use some cheaper cuts of white fish cut into strips or some crunchy vegetables such as spring onions which, incidentally make a great garnish for a grilled steak.

For me there are three elements to a good tempura and all have equal billing as far as I am concerned. Taking a hot, deep fat fryer with clean oil as a given you need to have the following; good batter, fresh ingredients cut into sensible sized pieces and a great dipping sauce which matches the food you are cooking.
The batter is very easy to make and the secret is to use ice cold water, some use soda but I use water:

Recipe for Tempura Batter

1 egg yolk
1 cup (200ml) ice cold water
1 cup (100g) plain flour

Combine the water and the egg and stir thoroughly. Stir in the flour until it has just combined, don’t overwork, the batter should be a little lumpy. Keep cold until needed.
I have seen some recipes where a pinch of potato flour has been added to make the batter more crispy but it’s your choice.

All you need to do is make sure the oil is hot, your food has been washed and patted dry and your garnishes are all ready to serve. Don’t cook too many items at once or the temperature will drop. Crispness is the key to a good tempura so cook less more often.

Squid Tempura

15 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    I used to make little log cabins for the kids out of tempura green beans - one of the few ways I could get them to choke down a vegetable. I spent a couple of days a few weeks ago just playing with different variants of dipping sauces. Very few cuisines marry spicy/salty/sweet in one dish as the asian ones do. Think I’ll go make some spicy pork spring rolls now, thanks for the inspiration.

    December 14, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  2. miles says:

    Dave,
    A great idea for the veg, Asian dipping sauces are one of the world’s greatest ever ‘things’-I love them.
    Enjoy the rolls!

    Miles

    December 14, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

  3. Cid says:

    Miles,

    I love these too and could eat them all the time. I’ve eaten tempura in Japan and at home ….. fresh food cooked quickly…. delicious. Sad then that I look inside my fridge and see nothing very enticing this evening. Everything I’ve got is heading for a lunch party tomorrow so must get on and prepare so I appear cool and collected when people arrive…. of course there’s no chance but perhaps they will chat among themselves while I develop steamed spiky hair :)

    Cid

    December 15, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

  4. Cid says:

    Miles,

    … may I add, what a perfectly cut lime that is…. you see we notice all the details!

    December 15, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

  5. miles says:

    Cid,
    I do envy your trip to Japan. Good luck with the catering, I’m sure you will be a perfect hostess as always!
    As for the lime, well I have a pet hate about citrus fruits in restaurants, I only serve them with these types of dishes as we season with lemon and lime juice before the dish leaves the kitchen. If you do serve a wedge of something citrus-like then please be polite and remove any pips and excess pith. The customer should be able to squirt in a straight line if you pardon my French!

    Miles

    December 15, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  6. Richard Blaine says:

    I found this recipe this afternoon and I actually went home and made it and did tempura onion slices and tempura scallop sliced in half and it came out GREAT! I have been making tempura for a long time and the recipe I used is not as simple as this, using cornstarch and baking powder and soda. NO MORE! This is the recipe for me. Nice and simple!

    Thank You!,

    Richard

    March 29, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

  7. miles says:

    Richard,
    Welcome to the site, glad you found the recipe of use. I use it in the restaurants and it never lets me down.
    Kind regards
    Miles

    March 30, 2011 @ 9:08 am

  8. james says:

    tried recipe. not sure if i got measurement exactly right first time so added some cornflour which seemed to work. seemed a bit darker than i expected. good start i will work with it.

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

  9. miles says:

    James
    Welcome to the site, you can use cornflour, just make sure you don’t overwork the batter.
    Good luck with it
    Kind regards
    Miles

    October 11, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  10. Daryl says:

    Miles,
    On a recent trip to Spain we had a superb tempura batter on monk fish in a small Bodega, it was very light and had a wonderfol lemon zing to it. Would you add the juice or zest of a lemon to the batter?

    Regards,
    Daryl

    October 12, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  11. miles says:

    Daryl,
    Welcome to the site. That sounds lovely, I’ve not tried that but you could use either really, perhaps finely grated zest would do the trick?
    Let me know if you try it.

    Kind regards
    Miles

    October 12, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

  12. Daryl says:

    Miles,
    Tried the lemon batter with the juice of half a lemon and it was ok but i made the batter to the measurements above and if i was to make this amount again I would add the juice of a whole lemon and I think this would do the trick.

    Regards,
    Daryl

    October 26, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

  13. miles says:

    Daryl,
    Thanks for coming back to us, I’ve made a note of that. Many thanks.

    Miles

    October 27, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  14. Ade says:

    Well I was looking for a simple tempura batter to cover thinkly sliced strips of chicken with a lemon sauce. Fed up of dodgy chicken nuggets with god only knows what in.

    Served it with fried rice, tempura chicken topped with lemon sauce and a spring onion.
    The kids absolutely loved it, great meal for sharing and very affordable to.
    Meal cost to make just £4.50 and it’s served 5 of us.

    I put the tempura batter in an open fronted freezer for about 20 mins before use with perfect results.

    Gonna try it again to make fruit fritters with vanilla ice cream for a yummy treat.
    Many thanks ;-)

    October 11, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

  15. miles says:

    Ade,
    Welcome to the site, that’s brilliant! That sounds like a lovely meal and good idea re the freezer. The colder the batter the better. The price is right too, just goes to show what a bit of imagination can do.
    Thanks for letting me know and I hope you return again soon.
    Kind regards
    Miles

    October 11, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

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