Tempura (てんぷら, less commonly spelled "tenpura") refers to classic Japanese deep fried batter-dipped seafood and vegetables. The batter is made of ice cold water, flour, and egg yolks. Small dry bite-sized pieces of food are dipped in flour, then in batter, and then deep fried for 2-3 minutes. Batter-coated frying was adapted from 16th century Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to Japan.
Cooked bits of tempura are then either dipped in tentsuyu sauce (roughly three parts dashi, one part mirin, and one part shoyu) or sprinkled with scant sea salt before eating. Tempura is commonly served with grated daikon and is eaten hot immediately after frying.
In Japan, restaurants specializing in tempura are called "Tempura-ya" and range from inexpensive fast food chains to highly revered and very expensive five-star restaurants. Many restaurants offer tempura as part of a set meal or a bento (lunch box).
Often cooked in this fashion are shrimp, squid, shiitake mushroom, sweet potato, pumpkin, burdock, carrot, zucchini, a wide variety of fish, and many others. Things not generally served as tempura include rice and other grains, processed food such as tofu (although tofu tempura is occasionally seen in westernized Japanese restaurants), and fruits. Notable exceptions are ice cream and banana.
Tempura is also used in combination with other foods. When served over soba (buckwheat noodles), it is called tempura soba or tennsoba. Tempura is also served as a donburi dish where tempura shrimp and vegetables are served over steamed rice in a bowl (tendon).
Common ingredients include:
Not to be confused with tempera, a painting style.