Vegetable Tempura

Vegetable Tempura

Making vegetable tempura is easier than you think. Getting perfectly crisp, crunchy, golden brown, tempura vegetables can be achieved with a few simple tricks. 

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Stripe cloth and chopsticks next to a plate of vegetable tempura.

When I go to any Japanese restaurant, my order is a bowl of miso soup and a plate of vegetable tempura. My love affair with tempura goes way back to my travels to Tokyo and walking past a street vendor frying up a mixture of vegetables, shrimp, or an assortment of things I didn’t recognize. The smells were incredible and the paper cone of vegetables was insanely good. I was addicted to the light, crispy coating, and the perfectly tender vegetable inside. I couldn’t get enough.

This recipe is an homage to my love affair with vegetable tempura. As Prue Leith from Great British Bake-off says, “This is worth the calories!”

Japanese Tempura

Tempura was introduced to Japan by Portuguese missionaries through their fritter-frying techniques in the 1600s. It was often a cooking method that was utilized for meatless Friday meals by the Catholic missionaries.

Tempura is a dish that is usually made with seafood, sometimes a bit of meat, and vegetables that are battered and deep-fried. Although the tempura is fried, the final product should be light, crispy, and not at all greasy.

Close up of a plate of vegetable tempura.

Ingredients Needed

  • Vegetables – the best veggies for tempura are very thinly sliced sweet potato, zucchini, yellow squash, or eggplant; green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, or mushrooms.
  • Cake flour – this is lower in gluten and will help ensure a light, tender coating.
  • Corn starch – you could also use potato starch. Both corn and potato starch lightens the batter and helps make it light and crispy.
  • Baking soda
  • Eggs – make sure the egg is cold.
  • Club soda – be sure that the club soda is ice cold.
  • Oil – you want a light oil to fry the tempura. I used peanut oil, but any vegetable oil would work well.

Tips For Making Great Tempura

  • Freshness matters. Choose the freshest vegetables or shrimp possible.
  • Slice your vegetables such as potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, or yellow squash very thinly to ensure that they cook evenly.
  • Use cold club soda and a cold egg to help the batter stick to the vegetables.
  • Don’t overmix the batter. Overmixing will develop the gluten levels in the flour making your batter dense and heavy instead of light and crispy.
  • Only fry the tempura until it is perfectly golden, not brown, and not pale.

What Are The Best Vegetables To Make Tempura?

  • Asparagus – cut off or peel the tough and woody lower stems.
  • Bell pepper – remove the core and slice into 2-inch slices or rings before dipping into the batter.
  • Daikon radish – thinly sliced.
  • Green beans – these are surprisingly delicious!
  • Eggplant – thinly sliced and it doesn’t matter if you peel it or not.
  • Sweet potato – come on. Chips? Hello? Thinly slice them and you’re good to go.
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra – every Southerner is wondering why this is even in question!
  • Onion rings 
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
Top view of a stripe cloth and chopsticks next to a white plate with homemade vegetable tempura.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1. Prep all your vegetables before starting on the recipe. This is important. You want to be able to batter your vegetables as soon as the oil is hot.
  2. Stir together all of the batter ingredients.
  3. Pour the oil into a pot and begin to heat the oil to 350 degrees.
  4. Dip the veggies into the batter, shake off the excess, and carefully lower them into the hot oil.
  5. Cook for 2 ½ minutes on each side.
  6. Remove the vegetables from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and batter.

Looking To Fry Up More Goodness? Here Are A Few Suggestions:

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Close up of a plate of vegetable tempura.

Vegetable Tempura


Description

Making vegetable tempura is easier than you think. Getting perfectly crisp, crunchy, golden brown, tempura vegetables can be achieved with a few simple tricks.


Ingredients

Scale

2 ½ cups assorted vegetables (I used thinly sliced sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, cauliflower, and broccoli florets)

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons potato starch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 large egg

1 cup ice-cold club soda

2 cups oil, for frying (I used peanut oil)


Instructions

Prepare all of your vegetables prior to starting the recipe. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the egg and club soda.

Stir the flour mixture gradually into the egg mixture just until combined. Don’t overmix. It’s okay to have a few lumps. The mixture should be pretty thin,

In a large, heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil to 350 degrees.

Once the oil reaches 350 degrees, dip the vegetables into the batter, shaking off any excess batter back into the bowl.

Carefully drop them, a few at a time, into the hot oil. Don’t add too many at one time or the oil temperature will drop and the tempura will be oily instead of crisp.

Cook for 2 ½ minutes, then flip, and cook another 2 ½ minutes until golden brown.

Use a wire spider or slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the oil. Allow the vegetables to drain for a few seconds, before placing them on a paper towel-lined plate.

Repeat with the remaining vegetables and batter.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Keywords: vegetable tempura, tempura recipes, side dish recipes, Japanese recipes, vegetable dish, fried foods

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