Vegetarian Tempura:

In case you’re not up on these things, you might want to know that tomorrow (Saturday), January 7th, is National Tempura Day.

YUM. Tempura is good stuff, especially if you can eat it within minutes after the making.

I know it’s soon after the holiday season and everyone’s thinking bad things about fried food. But with Tempura, the batter-dipped ingredients are cut small or thin and they’re fried very quickly in very hot oil. There isn’t much time for the food to absorb the fat, so you don’t actually wind up with too much.

And although Tempura is often made with fish or seafood, it is also a terrific way to have a delicious, filling vegetarian meal. Even the most ardent meat-eaters can’t resist this crispy, hot, vegetables-only dinner.

I’ve made Tempura many times. There are never leftovers. That’s how good this dish is. When I do make Tempura it always brings to mind one of my first cooking memories, not from my childhood but from when I first started cooking in my own apartment as an adult. I decided to make Tempura and didn’t realize that sesame oil, which is used for flavor — like a tiny sprinkle on a piece of fried eggplant for example — is not cooking oil. I heated up a wokful of sesame oil and fried everything in it.

YUK. Each piece felt as if it weighed a ton. I can still taste that heavy, sesame-laden, awful food! Two tastes and we all knew it was inedible. That evening ended up being a restaurant night.

Make sure you use a light, high-smoke point cooking oil (like canola, peanut, soybean or corn oil)! Keep the oil hot and the food sizzling. You’re in for a treat.

Btw, if you wish, you can add a pound of cut up thin filets of white, firm fish (such as sole or flounder) to the recipe.

Vegetarian Tempura:


1 large egg

2 cups ice cold water

1-2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measure after sifting)

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch baking soda

Beat the egg and ice water together in a large bowl. Add flour, salt and baking soda and whisk ingredients until well blended.


1 medium eggplant, peeled, sliced into 1/2-inch thick strips

16 snow pea pods

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced

1 bell pepper, red or green, stem removed, deseeded, cut into strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds

all-purpose flour

vegetable oil for deep frying

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a cookie sheet in the oven (if possible place a cake rack inside the cookie sheet). Dredge the eggplant, snow peas, sweet potato, bell pepper and zucchini in the flour and shake off the excess. Heat about 3-inches of vegetable oil in a deep pan (or deep fryer) over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375 degrees (a drop of batter will sizzle quickly). Using a few pieces at a time, immerse vegetables in the batter, shake off excess and place the coated vegetables in the hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes, turning the pieces, or until the vegetables are lightly tanned and crispy. Place the cooked pieces on the cookie sheet (on top of the rack, if used) to keep them warm. Repeat with remaining vegetables. Makes 6 servings