Laura Edwards

Tempura is a fantastic place to start on a journey into the world of Japanese food, because it’s so simple, such a crowd-pleaser, and it requires no special ingredients. If you’re put off by the idea of deep-frying, let me put some of your fears to rest. First of all, it’s not as unhealthy as you might think – if you measure your oil before and after making a tempura meal, you’ll find you won’t have actually used that much. It’s also not unsafe, provided you use common sense and a very big pan. Finally, it’s not difficult – simply dip, drop and drain.

Not at all difficult


Quantity Ingredient
oil, for deep-frying (see note))
8 broccoli florets or tenderstem broccoli stems
1 large onions
or 2 small onions, cut into 7.5 mm rounds
8 oyster mushrooms
1 courgette, cut in half and then into quarters lengthways
8 king prawns, peeled and deveined, scored 5–6 times on their underside to prevent them from curling
200g skinless, boneless cod or other meaty white fish, cut into 4 goujons
400ml Tsuyu, to serve, (optional – you can season this with just salt and a wedge of lemon if you like)

For the batter

Quantity Ingredient
1 egg
400ml sparkling water
200g plain flour
100g cornflour
pinch salt


  1. Get all your ingredients ready to go before cooking – bear in mind that this is quick, hot cooking, so anything cut too thick will risk burning before it cooks through. Pour the oil into a very big, deep pan, ensuring that you keep the oil level at least 7.5 cm below the rim of the pan, to be safe. Put the oil over a medium heat while you make the batter.
  2. For the batter, beat the egg, and then stir it together with the sparkling water, ideally using chopsticks. Don’t stir too much or you will knock the bubbles out of the water.
  3. Stir both flours together with the salt in a separate bowl, then pour in the egg and sparkling water mixture. Mix until the batter comes together with a consistency of double (heavy) cream. A general rule to follow is that it should be badly mixed: a slightly lumpy batter contains more air and irregularities that will give your tempura a light, lacy structure, and it also develops less gluten, which helps prevent it from turning doughy and soft. Little lumps are good, big lumps are bad, so break them up.
  4. Now all you need to do before you start cooking is to check the temperature of the oil. If you have a thermometer, use it – the oil should be at 170–180ºC. Or simply drip a few drops of the batter into the oil to test it. If the batter sinks, it’s too cold. If the batter immediately floats and sizzles, it’s too hot. The batter should sink just below the surface of the oil, then rise up and start to sizzle. Then it’s just right.
  5. Dunk the veg and fish in the batter, one at a time, allowing excess to drip off before carefully placing them in the oil. Use tongs or chopsticks to separate the veg as they fry so they don’t stick together. You’ll have to do the veg in batches – the ideal way to serve and eat this is straight out of the fryer, so if you’ve got somewhere for people to sit in the kitchen, gather them round for a TEMPURA PARTY!!! (Give people some pickles or the Best Edamame to snack on while they wait between batches.) If not, just keep the tempura in a very low oven with the door slightly ajar to let out moisture until it’s all ready to serve.
  6. The tempura is done when it is a light golden brown and hard to the touch – use tongs or chopsticks to feel if the batter has firmed up before removing from the oil and draining on kitchen paper. Serve the tempura with tsuyu for dipping, or simply wedges of lemon and sea salt.


  • About 1.5 litres but possibly a little more depending on the size of your pan
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