Lightly battered, deep-fried vegetables or seafood. 天ぷら。
The ingredients are dipped in a lumpy sauce of ice water, flour and egg and then dipped for just seconds into the hot oil - only one or two at a time in order not to disturb the temperature. Tempura is eaten piping hot. The koromo or batter cloak should be almost transparent, this a test of the chef's craft.
Tempura batter is made in small batches as it should always be fresh.
A dipping sauce called ten-tsuyu is used, made of soy sauce, mirin and dashi - the customer adds grated radish. The tempura should only be dipped lightly into this. Don't soak! Even better is to leave the dipping sauce out and eat the tempura with a dab of salt.
Tempura is usually eaten in specialist tempura restaurants.
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As deep-frying was not normal in the Japanese cuisine, it is thought it came to Japan in the 16th c. via Portuguese traders. The Portuguese word to which "tempura" goes back has however not been clearly identified: tempero, spicy condiment or tempora, the time when Catholics avoid meat and instead eat fish or vegetables. According to legend, Tokugawa Ieyasu was so fond of tempura that overeating the dish led to his death. But as deep-frying is also a Chinese cooking technique, the dish may just as well have been Chinese inspired.
Tempura teishoku is a set of tempura plus rice and miso soup. The volume of the tempura depends on the price. Tendon is a bowl of rice covered with some pieces of tempura.
Usually some of the following are included:
Kuruma-ebi (車えび), prawn
Kisu (きす), Japanese whiting
Anago (あなご), conger eel
Ika (いか), squid
Haze (はぜ), goby
Ayu (鮎), sweetfish
Megochi (めごち), flathead
Shirauo (白魚), whitebait
Kakiage (かき揚げ), mix of scallops, shrinp and vegetables
Nasu (茄子), eggplant
Tamanegi (玉ねぎ), onion
Renkon (蓮根), lotus root
Shiitake (しいたけ), shiitake mushroom
Shiso (しそ), Perilla leaf
Satsuma-imo (薩摩芋), sweet potato
Shishito (獅子唐), small green pepper
Ginnan (銀杏), gingko nuts
Kabocha (かぼちゃ), Japanese pumpkin
[Tempura of slices of Japanese pumpkin]