What Exactly is Tempura?

If you’ve ever been out for a night of Japanese cuisine or shopped in the seafood section at your local grocery store, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen some items marked as “tempura.” Japanese cuisine is synonymous with a vast array of different flavors, tempura being one of the most popular. But what exactly is it? And why is it so popular? We’re going to find out today, so get your taste buds ready as we unlock the secrets and definitions of tempura. 


What is Tempura? 

Tempura is a term that describes how vegetables and seafood are prepared. It consists of battering and frying, something that’s familiar to many Western eaters, as foods such as fried chicken are prepared in a very similar fashion. However, tempura-battered foods have much less grease than their Western counterparts, making them notably healthier. 

Humble Beginnings 

Tempura is commonly associated with Japanese cuisine, but it originated in a different part of the world. Many researchers attest to the beginnings of tempura starting in Portugal in the 1600s. As trading between other countries became more prominent, tempura started to become intertwined with Japanese cooking in the 1700s and has been a popular mainstay of the culture ever since. 

Different Than the Rest 

Unlike some of the other batters that are used in Western dishes, tempura is made from unique ingredients that give it a flavor that’s very different. Tempura is commonly composed of three distinct ingredients: flour, egg, and cold water. The result is a crispy batter that’s light and doesn’t detract from the flavor of the food it’s paired with. 

How is Tempura Incorporated into Japanese Cuisine 

Like many other ingredients, tempura has many uses, and how it’s employed normally depends on the chef. Many Japanese restaurants offer tempura as an appetizer and have even taken to the practice of using it with sushi rolls to give them a satisfying crunch. Many places that are vegetarian and vegan-exclusive have offered vegetables battered in tempura, while other locations use it with seafood such as crab, shrimp, and squid. 

Now that you have a better understanding of what tempura is and what creates its unique flavor, isn’t it time to dig in and enjoy it? Here at Tsunami Sushi in Sarasota, we have plenty of dishes that are culled from the very best in Japanese cuisine. Come dine with us at 100 Central Avenue, Suite 1022, in Sarasota.

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