Tuesday, July 17, 2012


                                             A High End Tempura Restaurant in Japan

Portuguese? Or Japanese? Perhaps a bit of both....The Japanese have borrowed many cooking techniques and ingredients from abroad and adapted them to suit Japanese tastes. "Tempura" and the use of hot oil for cooking was introduced in the 1600s by the Portuguese.
                        Look familiar? Portuguese deep fried eel looks a lot like tempura!

Rice flour is not normally used for tempura, wheat flour is the norm. Vegetables and seafood are popular tempura items. "Ebi tempura" or jumbo prawns are a favourite in Japan as elsewhere. Shiitake mushrooms are good, as is "kabocha", a kind of Japanese squash.

                                 Tempura batter should be very light and never greasy 
Whole soft shell crabs are fried in tempura batter and often used for "Spider Rolls". The entire crab is edible after being fried. The whole crabs make for specatular presentation!

                         "Spider Rolls" are a popular new sushi roll using whole soft shell crabs

Amaebi are large sweet shrimp served raw as sashimi or nigiri sushi The heads are often fried in tempura and served alongside the raw body. They look strange but they are a crispy, crunchy calcium filled treat...

                                                         Yumm...deep fried head.....

A light dipping sauce may be served garnished with fresh grated daikon (radish). Some people prefer just a little salt and a squirt of lemon. Small fish in tempura aren't often seen in the West but they're a crispy, seasonal favourite in Japan...

Even sheets of dried seaweed and herbs can be used in tempura preparations. "Oba" or "shiso" is a Japanese minty basil. The leaves are crispy and delicious when served in a delicate tempura batter.

                                                           "Shiso" leaves
 Kakiage is a birds nest style tempura that can be made with onions, carrots, shrimp and sometimes "gobo" the root of the burdock tree. Pretty much any leftover veggies can be julienned and thrown together making kakiage popular tempura option to make at home. Served over rice and drizzled with a sweet and savoury sauce it becomes "tendon" (tempura rice bowl)

                             "Kakiage" style tempura served over rice as "tendon"
"Tempura udon" is a favourite at Sanbiki and traditional cold weather comfort food. Served with udon noodles in soup, it can be garnished with green onion or "shichimi", a Japanese chili powder.

                                   Sanbiki uses homemade stock for our tempura udon
When the Portuguese first introduced "tempura" in Japan, the consumption of animals was prohibited. The name "tempura" is thought to have come from the Latin "quottuor tempora" which refered to the times when Catholics also avoided eating meat. Even today, it is rare to see meat tempura in Japan. Outside Japan, anything pretty much goes; even whole sushi rolls are dunked in tempura and deep fried!

                            Deep fried sushi rolls? Yes, they're out there....

While the Japanese appeared enthusiastic about the cuisine of Portugal, they were perhaps more reserved about the Portuguese missionaries themselves! "The Barbarians Cookbook", as it was called, was published in the 17th Century and explores the use of not just hot oil, but also eggs and sugar for cooking. It is believed that this is the first time recipes for cookies appeared in Japan. Even today "boro" are crispy, biscotti-like sweet treats.....

                              These boro are made with buckwheat flour
PANKO is a breadcrumb batter somewhat similar to tempura...."Pan" from the Japanese word for bread (same pronounciation as "pain" in French) "Ko" is a Japanese term for powder or coating. so..."PANKO"=Bread crumb batter. Shrimp, oysters, pork cutlets and chicken can be served fried in panko.
                                Panko crusted pork, chicken and seafood are popular everywhere

Trying tempura at home? Be careful not to overmix the batter and use cold water. Use a vegetable oil that is clean and hot. Check your recipe carefully as different items should be fried at slightly different temperatures. Make sure the items are of uniform size and not too big or thick as they will not cook quickly and thoroughly. Never use "wet" items, pat them dry with paper towel to ensure they turn out crispy. Don't put too much in the pot at once! This lowers the temperature of the oil, the food absorbs more of it, and becomes greasy! Serve tempura quickly and don't be afraid to experiment!

                                             Not traditonal tempura but tasty!

Have a great week, more blogs to come!

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