Tempura is a deep-fried dish that the Japanese have made for centuries. When did it originate? Let us find out through the history of Tempura Day!

Learn about Tempura Day

On Tempura Day, we are encouraged to enjoy any sort of dish that has been made with tempura batter. This is a Japanese fare, with most people tucking into delicious Tempura prawns on this date! However, there are many things you can deep-fry in this batter. Seafood and vegetables are the most popular, yet there’s nothing stopping you from having Tempura chicken. We are sure that there are plenty of unique concoctions you can come up with as well. Deep-fried Mars bars are popular, so what about a Tempura version?

Tempura is a traditional Japanese dish. It was introduced in the 16th century by the Portuguese that were living in Nagasaki at the time. They used fritter-cooking to achieve the light batter. The batter typically consists of soft wheat flour, for example, all-purpose flour, pastry flour, or cake flour, which is combined with iced water. Some people prefer to use sparkling water to keep the batter light.

A lot of people will also add spices, oil, starch, baking powder or baking soda, and/or eggs, especially the egg yolk. Traditionally, this batter is mixed in small batches. Chopsticks are used to mix the batter, and it is only mixed minimally, i.e. for a few seconds. Any lumps are left in the mixture, and this – along with the cold temperature – is how the crisp and unique fluffy tempura structure is created when cooking.

Cooked tempura pieces tend to be either salted and eaten as they are or they are presented with a dipping sauce. Tentsuyu sauce is the most common sauce to enjoy with this batter. A lot of people serve it with grated daikon, which is a mild-flavored winter radish, and they eat it straight after it has been fried. You will also find that tempura is typically found in udon soup or bowls of soba in Japan, typically in the form of a fritter, shiso leaf, or shrimp.

It is also not uncommon for tempura to be used in combination with other foods. So, if you want to cook a tempura-inspired meal for Tempura Day, there are plenty of main dishes for you to consider. As mentioned, you can add tempura to the top of udon soup. It is also typically served as part of a donburi dish, which is where vegetables and tempura shrimp are served over a bowl of steamed rice. You could also make a bowl of tempura soba, which is essentially tempura that is served on top of buckwheat noodles. Or, how about making your very own creation?

History of Tempura Day

Tempura is made up of either seafood or vegetables that are battered, deep-fried, and enjoyed by millions of people across the nation. Portuguese Jesuit missionaries introduced the recipe for tempura to Japan during the sixteenth century (around 1549). It is believed that Portuguese Jesuit Tokugawa Isyasu, founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, loved tempura. Since the Genroku era (September 1688 – March 1704) tempura was originally a very popular food that was eaten at street vendors called yatai.

Today, chefs all over the world include tempura dishes on their menus using a wide variety of different batters and ingredients including the non-traditional broccoli, zucchini, and asparagus as well as dry fruits. Some meats, usually chicken and cheeses, are known to be served tempura-style in some American restaurants. For sushi lovers, a more recent variation of tempura sushi has the entire piece of sushi dipped in batter and tempura-fried. The word “tempura” comes from the word “tempora”, a Latin word meaning “times”, “time period” used by both Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period or Ember Days.

The idea that the word “tempura” may have been derived from the Portuguese noun tempero, meaning a condiment or seasoning of any kind, or from the verb temperar, meaning “to season” has not been substantiated. The term “tempura” is thought to have gained popularity in southern Japan; it became widely used to refer to any sort of food prepared using hot oil, including some already existing Japanese foods. Today, the word “tempura” is also commonly used to refer to satsuma age, a fried fish cake that is made without batter. In Bangladesh, the blossoms of pumpkins or marrows are often deep-fried with a gram of rice flour spice mix, creating a Bengali style tempura known as kumro ful bhaja.

How to celebrate Tempura Day

Celebrating Tempura Day is easy. You gather up the ingredients necessary to create a tempura, be it a homemade recipe or one you found online, and make the dish to serve it with family as a happy dinner meal. You could decide to have tempura prawns or starter or you could opt for a main dish that incorporates tempura, such as the ones we mentioned earlier.

The great thing about this batter is that it is highly versatile and so it can be teamed with a wide range of seafood, vegetables, and meat. This means that you can have a lot of fun experimenting with different ingredients. Why not have a tempura cook-off with your friends? Or, you could host a Japanese-inspired dinner party?

Why not get some of your friends around for afternoon tea Japanese style? In Japan, tea ceremonies have been popular for many years. Combine this with some delicious tempura dishes for everyone to eat, and you’ve got the perfect lunch-time event. After all, it is always fun to do something a bit different, isn’t it?

The tea that is famous in Japan is pure Matcha green tea. We’re sure you may have even seen Matcha tea or Matcha lattes in your local coffee shop! Matcha comes in many different forms and grades. It is important to be aware of this when purchasing, as you don’t want to end up selecting the wrong product. Generally speaking, you have two key options to select from when buying Matcha – ceremonial Matcha and cooking grade Matchas. 

Most people prefer to invest in ceremonial Matcha green tea, and this is because it is of the highest quality and it is suitable for everyday drinking. Of course, you can incorporate it into cooking too, but when creating a Matcha beverage it is even more important to choose high levels of quality. You won’t get better than ceremonial Matcha and this is emphasised by the fact that this Matcha is used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. This type of Matcha should be powdery, very fine, and boast a bright spring green shade.

If it has a slightly yellow colour and feels coarse, you definitely do not have ceremonial grade Matcha on your hands. Ceremonial Matcha is also delicious enough to be enjoyed on its own. You can simply mix it with hot water and consume it as it is; it does not need any sweeteners or additions. Another point worth bearing in mind is that you only need about half a teaspoon of ceremonial grade Matcha when making a cup of tea. You will need more than this when using a lower grade of Matcha. Therefore, while ceremonial Matcha may be more expensive to buy initially, it will last you a lot longer, and thus the costs even themselves out. 

No matter whether you are going to host a traditional Japanese tea ceremony with your friends or an evening of fine dining, you will need to decide what tempura dishes you are going to create. The great news is that there are so many different options for you to choose from! 

Let’s go through some of the most popular. If you’re looking for a veggie dish, eggplant tempura is a great choice. This is known as Nasu. Or, how about Ebi? This is shrimp tempura, and it is delicious! It is typically used as a topping for udon or soba noodles, yet it can also be enjoyed on its own. Don’t confuse this with Ebi Furai; this is another type of fish, yet it is deep fried with panko batter, which is a lot heavier. 

Some other options include tempura shiitake mushrooms, Ika, which is squid tempura, and Hotate, which is tempura scallops. If you are feeling really adventurous, you may want to consider Anago, which is salt-water eel. They have a sweet taste and a soft texture. 

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