Who doesn’t love tempura? Golden fried with the perfect amount of crunch, yet somehow still light and airy, tempura is absolutely delightful and delicious! Check out these 10 fun facts about this favorite appetizer and side dish below!
1. Classic tempura batter consists of only three simple ingredients: cake flour, eggs, and cold water (sometimes with added ice, or sparkling water instead).
2. Tempura was influenced by and adapted from fritter-cooking techniques, introduced by Portuguese living in Nagasaki in the 16th century.
3. Contrary to popular belief, tempura does not contain panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs).
4. To keep its light and airy texture, tempura is only made with vegetables or seafood, since meat would weigh down the dish. Some dishes (mostly Westernized) do use a tempura batter with chicken and meat, but with different seasonings and cooking techniques.
5. No one knows for certain where the name “tempura” originates from! There are a few common theories:
a. From Latin quator anni tempora or ad tempora cuaresme referring to Ember Days or Lent, during which no meat is consumed.
b. From Portuguese tempêro, which means “seasoning.”
6. Vegetable or canola oil are most commonly used for deep frying tempura today, but tempura was traditionally fried in sesame oil.
7.January 7th is National Tempura Day!
8. More recently, tempura has branched out to experimental sweets such as tempura ice cream, tempura chocolate, and even tempura gummies!
9. There are many ways to enjoy tempura, but the most common are: with dipping sauce (often with grated daikon), or as a topping for other dishes like tendon rice bowl, udon and soba.
10. In Japan, tempura can be found nearly anywhere today, from casual chain restaurants to upscale specialty restaurants, supermarket bentos, noodle shops, street vendors, etc. Restaurants that specialize in serving tempura are called tempura-ya, and are a must-visit for tempura lovers!