Tempura Batter

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WHAT'S SPECIAL

Tempura is so delicious, but the secret to amazing tempura is... amazing batter. Read on to find out how to make it!

Tempura is amazing when the batter is light and crispy. So let’s cut to the chase.

Amazing tempura batter secret #1

The biggest secret to amazing tempura batter (which in turn gives you amazing tempura) is tempura-ture. (I couldn’t resist. πŸ˜›) To be more precise, the colder the batter the better. (I could keep going with the puns… but I’ll try not to. You’re welcome.)

And why is colder better you ask? Because of gluten. Wheat flour contains proteins that turn into gluten when they come into contact with water. Gluten itself isn’t a bad thing – unless you’re gluten-intolerant! For those who aren’t, gluten is a key element when making bread and other baked goods. In tempura and other battered dishes, we need some gluten for the batter to hold onto the food. But too much gluten in your tempura batter will result in a doughy mess. This is because the gluey gluten blocks the water in the batter from evaporating while frying.

However, if you keep the batter ingredients cold, it will be harder for the gluten to activate, and easier for you to reach tempura heaven! This is why in the recipe below, we suggest you keep your sifted flour and your water in the fridge until ready to mix. You can also put the batter mixing bowl inside of a larger bowl with some ice water, to ensure that the batter stays cool throughout the cooking process.

Amazing tempura batter secret #2

The second secret to amazing tempura batter also has to do with minimizing gluten activation (but lends itself less easily to wordplay 😞). When mixing the wet and dry ingredients, DO NOT OVERMIX! Mixing or whisking vigourously or for too long will help the gluten activate. Rather than whisking, think of it more like cutting, folding or poking. It doesn’t matter if there are still lumps in the batter, so don’t you worry about that. You just worry about having enough space in your belly for all the delicious tempura you’re going to make with this batter recipe πŸ˜‰

THE MAIN ELEMENTS

Our recipe below makes a classic tempura batter, but it can be tweaked according to your needs. Here are some tips and suggestions for each of the elements that makes up tempura batter:

  • water
    • should be as cold as possible, keep in fridge until ready to use
    • can try carbonated water, helps keep batter light & crispy
  • egg
    • use only egg yolk if you’ll be serving / eating the tempura immediately
    • use whole egg if the tempura will have to wait a little before being eaten
    • use only egg white for a longer wait or if you want to freeze it for later
    • should be as cold as possible, keep in fridge until ready to use
  • flour
    • should be sifted, results in a lighter batter
    • should be as cold as possible, keep in fridge until ready to use
    • can try cake flour instead of all-purpose, as it’s lower in gluten-forming proteins
  • mixing
    • use folding, cutting or poking action rather than whisking action, DO NOT OVERMIX
    • use chopsticks instead of a whisk, DO NOT OVERMIX
    • DO NOT OVERMIX = mix just enough to incorporate egg and flour, little leftover lumps are ok
    • can put mixing bowl into a larger bowl of ice water in order to keep batter cold
4.5 from 2 votes

Tempura Batter

Servings 4
Prep Time 25 mins
Total Time 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 250 g cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk or whole egg / egg white (see tips above)
  • 500 mL water refrigerated

Instructions

  • Sift the flour from a height* of 20 cm.
    Tempura batter step 1
  • Put the sifted flour in the fridge. Pour the water into a mixing bowl and put in the fridge. Chill water and sifted flour for 15 minutes. Use this time to prepare your tempura ingredients, as well as a bowl of ice water** (larger than the mixing bowl).
    Tempura batter step 2
  • Put the mixing bowl with refrigerated water into the larger bowl of ice water. Add the egg yolk to the water and mix, then mix in the chilled sifted flour*** in 3 shots.
    Tempura batter step 3

Notes

* The fact that the flour passes through the air while sifting helps keep it soft and light, which makes it easier to incorporate. This reduces mixing time, which in turn results in a lighter and crispier tempura.
Β 
** Some people put ice cubes directly into the batter to cool it down, but this is not advisable because it makes the batter uneven in density and temperature.
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*** When mixing in the flour, think of cutting, poking or folding in the flour rather than whisking it. It should be a little lumpy, DO NOT OVERMIX!
Course: Basic
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: How-to, Tempura, Tempura batter

Did you make this recipe?

Please let us know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and tag @oishiwashokurecipes on Instagram and hashtag it #oishiwashokurecipes.

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