My daughter came back from uni exchange and the first thing she wanted to eat was Tempura Donburi. She helped me to make 4 bowls of Tempura Donburi. We went to a local market early in the morning and bought 8 big prawns. We deliberately counted how many prawns to buy so we have 2 each. My daughter asked if she could have three so I gave one of mine!!
She was so surprised that we have not shared Tempura Donburi on this Japanese food blog because it is one of the best dishes! It took so long because Tempura Donburi or Ten Don in short is what I usually eat at restaurants and not something I cook often. Tempura is quite a difficult dish to make the exact same as restaurants because the tempura is hard to make that crispy. So when I eat out at a Japanese restaurant, I usually order Tempura Donburi.
Another reason is that I was waiting for my home grown and harvested Shishito peppers. Any ingredients can be used for tempura, but usually it is veggies and usually the protein choice is seafood and the most popular is prawn. My favourite veggie to use is Shishito peppers and it is something I can’t find in Australia so I bought the seeds from a special nursery online and grew it myself.
Shishito peppers are regular veggies that are readily available from any supermarket in Japan. It is a sweet pepper and it is a little like small finger sized capsicum. I like Shishito because it is not spicy hot but it has a delicious smoky flavour and Shishito tempura is my favourite thing. They are easy to grow. My hands are not green, so if I can grow, everyone can. It does not need to be cut because it is small, just wash and use it.
Purple sweet potato is a must for tempura in my household. It’s a bit of a carb overload but oh well. I usually don’t eat huge meals so why not indulge with a few delicious Japanese foods every now and then. The potato needs to be sliced thin so it cooks through easily without burning them.
Even though shiitake mushrooms are a bit expensive, I like to use them for tempura. And at least they are now commonly available in Australia. Unlike ordinary mushrooms, the stem of shiitake mushrooms needs to be cut off because it is tough and leathery.
Also a tip to prepare prawn that I learnt from a Japanese chef a long time ago and still remember because I thought it is brilliant is remove the shell from the tail end. Because the shell is overlapped towards the tail end so if we remove from the tail end, all of the shell will come off easily without any force.
In Japan, tempura prawns are always prepared straight and not curled up. To do this, after the prawns are deveined, I score the belly side 2-3 times 1 cm apart and then break the muscle with fingers. You can feel the muscle break when you squeeze the prawn between your fingers. If you don’t mind curled up deep fried prawn, that’s ok but presentation of dishes are somewhat important in Japanese cuisine.
When tempura is made, you will have by-product called “Tenkasu”. Kasu means waste but they are not waste. You can buy packs of tenkasu in Japan. Because they are important Okonomiyaki ingredients which gives umami flavour to okonomiyaki and also used for udon topping, so don’t discard them. Just scoop the excess tempura bits and remove the excess oil by resting on kitchen paper then wrap them with cling wrap and put in a ziplock bag and it will keep about 2 weeks in the freezer. Or you can eat it straight away.
When we have tempura on its own, we usually make special tempura dipping sauce called “Tentsuyu” but when we put tempura on a bed of rice to make Tempura Donburi, the sauce needs to be condensed to eat with plain rice. It is soooo good. I had to try to not overeat the rice because it tastes so delicious with the sweet tempura sauce.
What do you think about my Japanese pottery rice bowl? Also If you liked my recipe for Tempura Donburi, please rate it and leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook , Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on Chopstick Chronicles. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ChopstickChronicles so I can see your wonderful creations!
- 8 prawns
- 1/2 small purple sweet potato
- 4 shishito peppers
- 4 green beans
- 4 shiitake mushrooms
- 4 shiso leaves
- 4 slices of renkon (lotus roots)
- 3 cups of uncooked rice or 6 cups of cooked rice
- 50 g plain flour
- 75 ml cold icy water
- 1 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp shirodashi
- 2 tbsp water
- wash the prawns and remove the heads of prawns
- remove the legs and shells from the tail end
- devein and score 2-3 place on belly side about 1cm apart.
- break the belly muscle so that when they are cooked, the prawn does not curl up
- wash the purple sweet potato and slice them about 5mm thick.
- Wash the shiitake mushrooms and cut off the stems and slice them thinly if necessary.
- Wash the shiso leaves and shishito peppers.
- Wash the green beans and cut them in half if they are too long.
- Cut the Chikuwa fish cakes in half.
Making tempura batter and deep frying
- Place water and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl
- Add flour and mix them all together but try not to stir too much. Creating gluten by overmixing causes oily, sticky, and soggy tempura.
- Heat enough oil to deep fry in a frying pan (or tempura pot if you have), to 180 degree celsius(356F)
- Dip each ingredient into the batter to coat individually then put them into the heated oil.
- When they are cooked, you can feel little vibrations to your hand when you pick up one with chopsticks.
- Take out the cooked ingredients onto a wired mesh rack with kitchen paper to remove and absorb excess oil.
Making the sauce
- place all sauce ingredients into a small sauce pan.
- bring them to boil and them simmer for a few minutes
- When the sauce is reduced and thickened, turn the heat off and set aside.
Assemble all together
- Serve rice in a large rice bowl
- place tempura on top of the rice
- Pour the sauce over the tempura and rice