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Q: What’s the difference between Tempura and Fish and chips?


The name “tempura” may derive either from the Portuguese word temperar (to temper in oil) or tempero (condiment/seasoning). The English deep fried fish also comes from either a Portuguese, or Spanish, source; (whilst the accompanying “chips” derive, ultimately, from a Belgian tradition). There, however, any similarities end.
Ideally one of the lightest and most delicate of dishes combining, not just fish, but also a careful blend of artfully prepared vegetables, tempura hardly brings to mind any association with the cholesterol-laden stodge that passes for food in some fish n’ chip eateries. Tempura, to be deliberately precise, is the apotheosis of deep fried food.

The Japanese have refined the dish from its origins until you now have tempura restaurants in Japan classed according to the freshness of the oil which they use for deep-frying the batter in: a top grade restaurant uses fresh oil; a second grade one purchases its oil, used, from the top grade places; a third grade one purchases its oil from the second grade establishments; and so on.tempura3

As with other dishes, a basic respect for ingredients and care in preparation makes all the difference. Tempura can be eaten solo, with either a light dipping sauce flavoured with grated daikon (white radish), or merely dipped in salt. Both are delicious.

Aside from these classic methods, tempura can also be served over rice, as a donburi, over soba noodles, or on top of udon noodle soup. All are legitimate, and anyone concerned with their weight need never feel the least self-conscious about consuming this most delicious of Japanese foods.

About Japanese Restaurant Guide

We admire the effort and the confidence of the Japanese restaurants here in New Zealand. We also look forward to the new styles of food and the creations they will come up with as they continue to progress individually, and as they blend these elements with New Zealand cooking culture.

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