Selection of tempura
Though Japanese deep-fried food was around before tempura, it was not until Iberian missionaries in the 16th century brought with them a style of cooking food with a batter of flour and eggs that the first version of tempura as we know it today originated. At that time, foods would be deep-fried in lard with a batter of flour, water, eggs, and salt. In the 17th century (Edo period) tempura became popular as a Yatai (food stall) dish in Tokyo. As there was an abundance of freshly caught seafood, the recipe for tempura changed to a milder version (of just flour, eggs and water) so as not to overpower the fresh fish. Today’s versions evolved from this popular food stall treat and include not just fish, but a variety of vegetables and greenery such as ‘shiso’ leaf. Interestingly, far from its origins as a fast-food it is these days often considered to be a high-end cuisine staple.
Making tempura ‘simply’ consists of dipping the produce in tempura batter, and deep-frying it. Except that getting each ingredient just right requires a lot of skill and experience on the part of the chef. The outside must not be too oily, and have that signature crunch, while on the inside each ingredient must have the right amount of moisture so as to be perfectly cooked instead of drying out. They are also prepared in such a way that the vividness of colours, shapes, and flavors are retained even when battered and fried.
Popular combination: tempura and soba(buckwheat) noodles
Have you ever tried eating tempura, or even tried making it yourself? Maybe you’ll enjoy it even more now knowing how much effort goes into perfecting each piece!