To us, the crispy delicious gold of the tempura is closely considered to be a staple of Japanese cuisine. However, did you know that historically, it was brought to Japan by the Portugese along with Catholicism? When the Portugese resided in Nagasaki in the 16th century, they introduced fritter-cooking technique.
The name tempura itself may even originate from the Latin phrase quatuor anni tempora, which refers to the Ember Days in which no meat is consumed. The Japanese have always had the ability to take foreign food and turn it into something totally new and original, and nothing exemplifies that more than tempura.
The ingredients of tempura itself usually include seafood and vegetables. The seafood is usually shrimp or white fish, while the vegetables most commonly used include potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots and green peppers.
But of course, what makes tempura stand out from other fried fare of Japan is the distinctive batter that uses no bread crumbs and less grease than other frying batters. The batter is just made up of beaten egg, flour, and cold water. Occasionally people will add starch, oil, or spices to the batter.
The manner of which people eat tempura also varies from region to region, as the Japanese are very diverse in cuisine! In the Kanto region around Tokyo, tempura is eaten with a dipping sauce, while in the Kansai region around Kyoto and Osaka it is dipped in flavored salt.
In any case, nowadays, tempura is often served with rice in a bowl called tendon or on top of soba noodles. It may also be served as a side dish and dipped in sauce. Tempura has become an essential part of Japanese cuisine, and it is all thanks to the flexibility of the Japanese for incorporating foreign foods and modifying them to suit their own tastes, thus creating something completely fresh and original.
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