Japanese food is arguably one of the most popular cuisines in Singapore, fuelled by the strong following of Japanese pop culture among our local youths. Between so many delicious options ranging from sushi to chirashi don, tempura is probably one that is most well-loved among Singaporeans since it is not eaten raw like many other Japanese dishes.
Fun fact: Coating food with flour and frying them is actually a Western-style cooking method that was brought to Japan by Portuguese Catholic missionaries.
The art of cooking tempura constantly evolves with eastern and western Japan adopting different techniques for their batter. The batter can be said to be the essence of tempura, so this seemingly simple dish requires lots of patience and practice.
If you are an avid fan of tempura or simply want to try replicating the mouthwatering dishes seen in food documentaries, these nine tips for whipping up the crispiest tempura will come in handy.
Keep reading to find out more and make sure to incorporate these tips into your favourite tempura recipes!
1. Only use starchy vegetables
There is a reason why authentic Japanese restaurants offer tempura made using starchy vegetables like sweet potato, pumpkin and lotus root – they contain less moisture compared to other types of greens, like cucumber and zucchini. This means that you will not have to worry about the batter burning even before the moisture from your vegetables evaporates.
Most, if not all, tempura recipes recommend using starchy vegetables so it is always a good idea to stick to them!
2. Use a tempura batter flour mix
If you are looking for a convenient way to whip up quality-tasting tempura, using a tempura batter premix is a great idea! All the dry ingredients you need are already included and measured, so all you have to do is add water to turn it into a wet mixture for coating.
3. Use icy cold water for your batter
Regardless of whether you decide to use a flour mix or to create your own batter, the key to nailing the perfect tempura batter is to use icy cold water. This slows down the formation of gluten to prevent the crust from absorbing too much oil and turning your tempura into heavy, fried food.
Keeping your batter cold by refrigerating it before you start frying helps too – the batter will be shocked to a crisp when it comes into contact with hot oil, giving you light and ultra-crunchy tempura.
4. Avoid stirring the batter too much
Unlike most baking recipes that require bakers to mix the batter till all lumpiness is gone, tempura recipes will usually caution cooks from overmixing the batter.
When it comes to tempura, having some lumps in the batter is totally fine to prevent too much gluten from forming and a chewy exterior. The lumps also help to create the iconic bubbly look that tempura is known for!
5. Add Japanese mayonnaise instead of egg
You may notice that some tempura recipes recommend using Japanese mayonnaise to replace the egg in your batter. The reason why tempura turns out oily and chewy is because of moisture in the batter. When you use mayonnaise, the emulsified oil disperses into the batter to reduce moisture, offering a crispy finish in return.
1 tablespoon of Japanese mayonnaise is the secret ingredient to include in your batter for the crispiest tempura!
6. Sprinkle ingredients with flour
Remember to sprinkle some flour onto the ingredients before coating them with the batter. This helps the mixture stick to the ingredients better, ensuring that you have a well-coated product to work with.
7. Use neutral-flavoured oil
It is not just the flour mix you choose or the batter you mix that matters when it comes to cooking tempura – the type of oil you use is equally important and can affect the taste.
Neutral-flavoured oil like vegetable or canola oil is preferred, as it is easy on the palate and has a high smoke point ideal for deep frying.
8. Pay attention to the temperature of the oil
A temperature range of 160-180°C is recommended as it is hot enough for a crispy crust but not too high that it burns your tempura too quickly.
9. Use wholegrain flour for a healthy twist
If you are more health-conscious, swapping out a portion of plain flour for wholegrain flour when making the batter is a trick to give tempura a healthier twist! Wholegrain flour will not just add a unique taste and texture to your dish, but also has various health benefits such as lowering your risk of heart disease.
Learn more: 5 Flour Substitutes for Healthier Bakes
Try your hands at cooking tempura today
Prima Flour is a flour supplier in Singapore with a wide range of products and mixes that will help you take your tempura cooking journey to the next level.
If you prefer making your own batter, our Self Raising Flour and Wholegrain Flour are two good options to consider. Otherwise, our tempura batter premix is just what you need for hassle-free cooking.
You might also want to explore our Superior Bread Flour as it is great for baking Japanese-style bread.
Prima Flour and Premixes are available at all major supermarkets, hypermarkets, and ingredient shops islandwide. Get in touch with us here for enquiries!
You may also choose to email us at email@example.com to reach us directly.