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Tempura - from Portugal to Japan with love.

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

Japanese Tempura with ten tsuyu dipping sauce by kurumicooks tasty easy healthy Japanese Asian and Fusion cooking and food for your kitchen

You might recall I sent you news of my first cooking class the other day. Well, here is the main meal that Penny, Frances and I made - tempura. That said, you might be wondering about the title of this post - do you know the connection between tempura and Portugal? If you don't, I'll explain. Tempura is known the world over as a Japanese dish but it's roots are actually Portugese. The history goes like this - 3 Portugese sailor were shipwrecked off Tanegashima, one of the islands south of Kyushu. The local ruler, seeing the opportunity for a trade in goods the Portugese possessed, allowed the Portuese to establish a trading post on the island, selling guns, soap and tobacco amongst other things. The trading post lasted for around 100 years until the Portugese were expelled but one thing they left behind was a Portugese dish called "peixinhos da horta" meaning "little fish from the garden". The little fish were, in fact, green beans, fried in a batter and they formed the start of what we know today as the Japanese dish, tempura. (You can still buy "peixinhos da horta" in Portugal). What makes tempura so popular? Probably, it's the lightness of the batter that's used and the speed of the deep frying which keeps it light and crisp. What goes into tempura? There are 15 - 20 typical vegetables and seafood that are used - no meat - you fry the vegetables first followed by the seafood. I get the impression that people think tempura looks too complex to cook at home but it isn't. It just takes a little time but the end result is well worth it. Check out my recipe below and the youtube tutorial by clicking Tempura (or scroll to the bottom of the page where you will find it) for more insight into mastering this dish. There is a dipping sauce called "Ten tsuyu" in Japanese to accompany this - you can find the recipe under the sauces section of the site and the youtube tutorial Ten tsuyu to make it.

Happy frying! Kurumi XXXX.




(for 4 ample servings)

8 slices sweet potato

8 slices butternut pumpkin

8 baby corn

8 uncooked king prawn (frozen or fresh)

4 shiitake mushrooms

4 slices lotus root (optional)

1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper (deseeded)

32 green beans

150g self-raising flour

100g corn flour

1 egg, beaten

240 ml water

you'll also need:

some veg oil for deep frying

some squares of kitchen paper

cling film

extra self raising or plain flour for coating the prawns


how to:

rinse all your

peel and thinly slice (5mm) the sweet potato, pumpkin

and lotus root

remove off the stalks from shiitake mushrooms

trim off the heads and tails of the green beans

cut each peppers into slices (you may have some leftover)

peel the skin of the prawns and devein, but leave the tails on. cut 3-4 incisions down the inside of the prawns to to stop them curling when you deep fry them

to make the tempura batter, put the self-raising flour and corn flour in a bowl and mix lightly

add the beaten egg and water, and mix well

microwave the sweet potatoes and the pumpkins in a bowl covered with clingfilm for 2 mins

fill your pan 1/3 full with veg oil and heat to 160-170C (to check if the oil is hot enough, drop a speck of batter into the oil- if the batter bubbles to the surface, it is ready)

dip the vegetables into the batter and deep fry for a couple of mins, turning from time to time

when the batter is a golden brown colour, take them out and place on the kitchen paper

for the prawns, dust them with the flour, then dip them into the batter. deep fry for a few minutes until light golden brown.



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