National Tempura Day Mixes Up a Tasty Crunch

Sure, your calendar indicates today is Wednesday, January 7. But it’s really a fry day. It is. January 7, 2015, is National Tempura Day. I would like to thank the person (this genius’ name escapes research) who set aside an entire day to enjoy a Japanese dish that is steeped in history, then lightly battered and deep-fried.

The story goes that the Japanese adopted this cooking technique or “temperar”  from the Portuguese after they landed on Japanese shores in search of new trade routes in the 16th Century. Another school of thought believes tempura is based upon a European translation of the Latin “quattuor tempora,” to “Ember Days.” This term refers to the Catholic tradition of eating fish and vegetables instead of red meat during Lent.

Today tempura has expanded beyond its origins in fish and vegetables to include just about every food type that lends itself to frying. Chefs everywhere try such things as meats, poultry, cheese, oysters, greens, herbs and even hard-boiled eggs. You’re only limited to what’s in your pantry, refrigerator, garden, grocery store and generous neighbors’ house.

Celebrate in good taste tonight with this easy tempura recipe:

1 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 cup ice-cold seltzer water
Salt (to taste)

For extra zing, sprinkle in your favorite spices.

Your favorite vegetables, meats and seafood cut into easy serving sizes.

Peanut oil for frying

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Whisk together until batter is light and airy. Do not over-mix.
Dust food with flour before dipping in batter
Fry battered food at 375 degrees for about 3 minutes, flipping once.


– – PJ Butland