You have probably shelled out big bucks at some fancy restaurant or other to enjoy their signature tempura dish. For those of you who thought that this was a traditional Japanese dish, think again as the concept of tempura was brought to Japan by the Portuguese.

Tempura refers to seafood or vegetables that are covered in batter and deep-fried. It was introduced in Japan by the Dutch in the 16th century, and since then it has gained popularity all over the world as a classic Japanese dish.


Today, we show you how to make authentic Japenese prawn tempura along with some vegetables and the dipping sauce.

Steps to Make Prawn Tempura

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to make prawn tempura

  • Prawns – 5
  • Ginger, grated (optional) – 2 grams
  • Fresh radish (optional) – 4 grams
  • Flour – ¼ cup
  • Olive oil – 1 litre

For Batter Mix:

  • Cake flour – ½ cup
  • Cornstarch – ½ cup
  • Egg whites – 1 egg
  • Cold water – 120 ml
  • Ice cubes

For Tempura Sauce:

  • Japanese soy sauce/Kikkoman sauce – ¼ cup
  • White sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Dashi powder – ¼ teaspoon
  • Mirin – 1 tablespoon
  • Water – ½ tablespoon

Step 1. Remove the heads and peel the prawns

remove the heads and peel the prawns to make prawn tempura
Break off the head and the outer hard shell
  • First gently break off the head.
  • Peel off the outer shell leaving the tail intact.
  • Do this for all the prawns.

Step 2. Devein the prawns

devein the prawns to make prawn tempura
Make a slit and remove the dark-colored vein
  • Use a sharp knife to cut along the outer surface of the prawns; this will help to expose the vein underneath.
  • Gently remove the dark vein as it can spoil the taste of the prawns.
  • Scrape the tail to remove excess water.

Step 3. Extend the prawns

extend the prawns to make prawn tempura
Make slits to lengthen the prawns
  • Make a diagonal slit under the belly to loosen meat.
  • Slowly pinch down the prawn on a flat surface without breaking the prawn to lengthen its size, you should hear a cracking sound.

Step 4. Prepare the batter

Combine cornstarch, cake flour, egg whites and water to make prawn tempura
Combine cake flour, cornstarch, egg whites and water
  • Add ½ a cup each of cornstarch and cake flour in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the egg whites.
  • Add 120 ml of cold water.
whisk well and add ice cubes to make prawn tempura
Whisk well and add a few ice cubes
  • Whisk thoroughly to get a smooth batter; it will be quite sticky at this point.
  • Add a few ice cubes as you mix to keep the batter chilled.

Step 5. Coat the prawns with flour

coat the prawns in flour to make prawn tempura
Coat the prawns, radish, and eggplant in flour
  • Dip the prepared prawns in flour; make sure that you coat them evenly on all sides.
  • You can also slice up a radish and an eggplant.
  • Coat them with flour as well.

Step 6. Dip the prawns in batter and fry

fry the prawns to make prawn tempura
Dunk the prawns in the batter and deep fry in oil
  • Heat olive oil in a pan. You can also use vegetable oil.
  • Once the oil is hot enough, dip the flour-coated prawns in the cold batter; shake off any excess batter and add it to the hot oil.
place the fried prawns on paper towels to make prawn tempura
Place fried prawns on paper towels to soak up excess oil
  • Deep fry the prawn, turning it over to the other side till it is a soft golden brown.
  • Remove with a pair of chopsticks or by using a slotted spoon.
  • Place the fried prawn on a tray lined with paper towels. Similarly, fry the other prawns.
Fry the sliced eggplant and radish to make prawn tempura
Fry the sliced eggplant and radish in a similar manner
  • Dip the sliced vegetables in the batter as well and deep-fry them to a crisp golden brown.

Step 7. Assemble the sauce

Add sugar and mirin to soy sauce to make prawn tempura
Add sugar and mirin to the soy sauce
  • Combine soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a bowl.
Add the Dashi powder to make prawn tempura
Add the Dashi powder and whisk well
  • Add Dashi powder and whisk well.
  • Dilute it with some water if the flavor is too strong.

Your sauce is ready; you can now plate and serve the prawn tempura alongside the fried vegetables and sauce. You can use the grated ginger and radish for garnish.

final to make prawn tempura
Enjoy your prawn tempura with crispy vegetables and sauce

FabHow Tips

  • Instead of adding cold water to the prawn tempura batter you add chilled beer for extra-crispiness and flavor.
  • You can also add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to make the tempura batter more light and airy.
  • Another common vegetable that is deep-fried the tempura way is lotus root. Peel and cut the lotus root to 1/8 of an inch. You can coat the slices in tempura batter, and deep fry them as shown above.
  • If you want your prawns to have more flavor, you can marinate them with some salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • If you are a fan of seafood, then you can also try out our recipe to make delicious seafood pasta at home.