I love trying different ways to prepare my vegetables. When I was growing up in Japan, I enjoyed eating tempura vegetables, fish and chicken. It’s a delicious and easy way to prepare vegetables and meats. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to prepare the raw ingredients, but the food cooks within minutes and can be eaten as soon as it’s cooled slightly. It’s also a fun food to prepare with guests.

Tempura ready to eat

Tempura is a delicious way to prepare vegetables, chicken or seafood. Try it with friends for a fun evening!

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Tempura ingredients

Many vegetables that you grow in your garden can be used in tempura.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

cooking tempura

As soon as your veggies and meat float to the surface, turn them over so both sides are crisp.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

You can cook many of the vegetables you grow in your kitchen garden this way. Sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, squash, peppers, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, okra and eggplants are equally delicious dipped in tempura batter and fried. If you want to add meats, try chicken and shrimp – both are tempting, as are prawns, fish or scallops.

Here’s all you need to get started:

  • Tempura batter mix (Check your grocer’s Asian food section.)
  • Ice water (See package of tempura mix for correct amount.)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Raw vegetables to be dipped, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • Raw shrimp, chicken or other seafood (optional)

Follow the directions on the tempura batter mix to prepare. Use ice water to keep it from becoming sticky and lumpy. Only stir slightly – too much stirring results in a tough batter.

Tempura can be cooked in any wok or a frying pan that’s several inches deep. Pour oil into the pan until it’s at least 2 inches deep. Heat over medium heat. The oil needs to be around 350 degrees F to cook tempura effectively. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell if it’s ready when you drip a little of the batter into the oil and it immediately rises to the top.

When your oil is ready, just take 5-6 pieces of food and dip them individually into the batter and slide them into the hot oil. The secret to making light, crisp tempura is to cook the food quickly and drain immediately. As soon as the food rises to the top, turn it over, allow it to crisp slightly, then remove it from the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Tempura is a very light brown, and should be crisp, not oily.

Continue to batter and cook your veggies and meat just 5-6 pieces at a time. This prevents the oil from cooling off and not cooking effectively. The heavier pieces (like sweet potato, chicken or shrimp) will take a little longer to rise, but watch closely and don’t let them sit at the top, where they’ll just absorb oil.

Serve your tempura as soon as it cools slightly. It’s delicious just by itself, or you can dip it in a sweet and sour sauce. You can also try Tentsuyu, the traditional Japanese tempura dip.

This easy meal is so delicious; it won’t be long before it becomes one of your favorite quick and easy dishes from the garden, too!