First and foremost, this post must be prefaced by saying that, contrary to common belief, fried foods are not always bad for you. There, we said it.
Now, that must be followed by the notion that all things are okay in moderation. By all things – and for the purpose of this tempura post – we mean fried foods. Fried foods are absolutely okay to eat because they can be good for you. Some fats are good for you. That is a fact.
Just because something is breaded and fried in fat does not make it the arch enemy. You can use healthy oils for frying – canola, peanut, grapeseed, sunflower, etc., – the fried coating does not have to be bread – it can be tempura batter – plus, you can fry vegetables. So there, see? Frying can be healthy.
If you are not familiar with tempura batter, we are sorry, but glad that we can be the one to revolutionise fried foods as you know them. Once you go tempura you will never go back to the old American southern way of frying, well, frying anything. Tempura batter makes everything better. That is, not only because it tastes better, but because it is better for you.
What is tempura batter?
For most, when you hear ‘tempura’ you think of the old Japanese specialty of a crispy fried plate of seafood and vegetables. Or if you are like me, you might think of the genius Japanese idea to fry a ball of ice cream. Either way, you hear tempura – you think Japan.
Did you know though, that tempura did not originate in Japan? This original style of frying was actually brought about by Portuguese Missionaries’ in the 1600’s and was a meal meant for Lent. Lent is a time when many Christian denominations are said to be forbidden to indulge in meat proteins. The word tempura actually comes from the Latin of ad tempora cuaresm, which literally translates to ‘in the time of Lent’.
So, what is tempura? The Japanese have an uncanny ability to take a dish, put a Japanese spin on it and call it their own. That is okay though, in the case of tempura, we do not mind. What makes tempura distinctive – different from other ‘traditional’ fried fare – is the batter itself.
Tempura uses no bread crumbs. Instead, it consists of flour, egg and cold water – spices and other forms of starch (i.e. corn starch) may be added. Tempura uses less oil for frying and results in a lighter and crispier coating. Oh, and a much more delicious one, at that.
Why tempura fry?
Tempura batter, as previously mentioned, does not contain bread crumbs. It is a super versatile batter that can easily be made gluten-free or even vegetarian or vegan. Tempura batter results in a coating that is light and ultra-crisp. It uses less oil to fry, of which can easily be substituted for any variety of oil depending on the user’s preference. Anything can be tempura fried, i.e. vegetables, herbs, fruits, starches, proteins, you name it – you can tempura fry it.
And why not? A batter like tempura truly does make everything better (and bonus: it is better for you!). Why not try something you do not particularly care for, but feel that you should be eating (think kale, seaweed, etc.)? Tempura fry it and ta da, suddenly it is not only edible, but it is also enjoyable!
Scott, G. (2013, February 19). “Tempura – The History Of Japans Unique Fried Food.” The InterAct Blog (website). Retrieved from http://www.interglobalpmi.com/blog/tempura-the-history-of-japans-unique-fried-food/. Accessed on January 4, 2016.