Simple Vegetable Tempura

Tempura and Sushi

Tempura is the perfect partner for sushi. Learn how to roll your own sushi in my series of posts titled “D.I.Y. Sushi” coming out next week!

One of my mom’s favorite Japanese dishes is shrimp tempura. What’s not to love? Tempura is deep fried seafood or vegetables served with a dipping sauce. Crispy. Salty.  Perfect for an appetizer or as part of a bento box. Oh so yummy.

Every time we go to a Japanese restaurant, my mom orders shrimp tempura, and she has even started to make it at home. My mom is a good cook, but she is not that into actually cooking, so I was surprised she attempted this.  It seemed so laborious.  She assured me, however, that making tempura at home is easy.

This made me want to take it on, and I had the perfect opportunity to do it.  John and I were having sushi night!

Whenever we have sushi night, I’m never quite satisfied with just sushi. I need something to complement the tender stickiness of the cut rolls. Tempura seemed to be just the right texture and taste to accompany the sushi.

Armed with a few tips from mom and this recipe, I embarked on making tempura at home.

First, I decided to keep it simple and work with vegetables only.  I am actually not a huge fan of the traditional veggies served in Japanese restaurants, so I went with green beans (which is a huge treat that they sometimes serve), asparagus, and cauliflower.  I prepped the the vegetables by cutting them into 2 to 3-bite pieces.

File Jul 17, 1 08 54 PM vegetables

Then, I gathered my ingredients for the batter: flour, cornstarch, baking soda, water, and an egg.  Once mixed, I had a thin, lumpy batter.  This batter will fry up into a light, fluffy and crispy coating.

tempura batter File Jul 10, 10 21 22 PM

Once I mixed, I immediately started to fry in preheated oil.  The oil is supposed to be 340-360 degrees, but since I don’t have thermometer, I just spooned in a bit of batter to test the temperature.  I knew it was ready when the batter slowly rose to the top of the oil and took about 2 minutes to brown.

I placed a few veggies into the batter bowl.  Then, fished them out one by one and dropped them into the hot oil.  Between batches, I scooped out those crumbly bits that broke off from the veggies, so they wouldn’t get burned.  Do something creative with those like use them on a salad or inside of sushi.

green bean tempura

When the batter was golden, I grabbed out the veggies with tongs.  I put them on layered paper towels to drain and sprinkled them with a bit of salt.

To serve, I placed them on top of paper bag-lined plate (so the oil continues to absorb instead of pool beneath the veggies) with a side of dipping sauce.  I do not really love the traditional tempura sauce, so I used a mixture of lemon juice, mirin, and soy sauce.

File Jul 10, 10 22 34 PM


Simple Vegetable Tempura


1 small head cauliflower
1 bunch asparagus
1 pound green beans

oil for deep frying (I use grapeseed or canola oil)


100 grams (about 3/4 cup) flour
2 tbs. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup cold water
1 cold egg

Non-traditional Dipping sauce*

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin**
1/4 cup lemon juice


  1. Measure out the ingredients for the batter.  Place the water in the refrigerator.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into 2-bite florets.  Trim the green beans.  Trim and halve the asparagus stalks. Set aside.
  3. Fill your pot with about two inches of oil. Begin to heat the oil over medium heat to approximately 350 degrees.
  4. Combine all ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small container. (I use a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring.)
  5. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda in a small bowl.  Add the egg and water and gently whisk until just combined.
  6. As soon as the batter is combined, begin frying in batches. Place 3-5 pieces of veggies into the batter.  Grab them out one at a time and drop them carefully into the oil.  They should sink first, then rise slowly.  Once they are golden (2-3 minutes), remove them from the pan and drain on layers of paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  7. Serve with dipping sauce.

I recommend cooking this to order.  If you want to cook it all ahead of time, keep it in a warm oven until ready to serve.

*If you prefer a traditional sauce, here is a good recipe.

**Mirin is type of Japanese rice wine used for cooking.  It does contain 20% alcohol, so if you prefer, you may replace the mirin with 1-2 tbs. sugar dissolved into 1/2 cup water.

A link to this page has been posted on the following sites: Miz Helen’s Country CottageThe Shabby Nest


7 thoughts on “Simple Vegetable Tempura

  1. What a great recipe for Vegetable Tempura. Hope you are having a fantastic day and we are so excited that you shared your post with Full Plate Thursday.
    Thanks so much and Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen


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