Is Tempura a Shrimp?

If you’re interested in Japanese cuisine, you must have come across the term tempura at least once – do you know what kind of dish this is? Oftentimes, people think it’s a dish made of shrimp. So, is tempura a shrimp or something else? Let’s find out everything about this delicious specialty.

Tempura isn’t shrimp. It’s a Japanese dish that’s made with a special type of batter (tempura batter) that’s used to coat various ingredients before frying. Tempura can be made with shrimp, but it doesn’t always have to be – you can use numerous kinds of vegetables, meat, or seafood to make this dish.

Shrimp tempura on a plate, two bowls with sauce next to it, and chopsticks on the plate

Whether you’re trying to learn how to cook Japanese delicacies or just want to know what to order next time you find yourself in a restaurant, this text can help you get the necessary information, so be sure to keep reading.

Is Tempura a Shrimp or Something Else? Here’s What You Can Expect From This Japanese Dish 

It’s understandable why one might think that tempura is shrimp – this is simply because the most common form of tempura is ebi, which is shrimp tempura. However, the name doesn’t refer to the ingredient used to make the tempura – you can use many other types of food instead of shrimp. When we say tempura, we actually mean the batter that’s used for frying these ingredients.  

What Is Tempura Exactly?

Tempura tastes like a savory dish served with various sauces, and it’s essentially deep-fried food made in a Japanese style. You could say that it resembles American fried food, but the differences are in the details, such as the way we prepare batter for tempura. The origin of this dish is Portuguese – they brought it to Japan in the 16th century, and it has remained one of the most popular foods there ever since.   

What Ingredients Are Most Commonly Fried in Tempura Batter?

If you love shrimp, you will choose it as a base for your tempura, obviously – you might have a hard time deciding between shrimp roll vs. shrimp tempura, however. There is always something new to try when it comes to Japanese cuisine, so I have no doubt that you’ll find enough time for everything!

But what about those who aren’t really fond of shrimp, even if it’s the best shrimp for tempura you can find – what should they coat in delicious tempura batter? The answer is – almost any ingredient that’s used in Japanese cuisine. From seafood and vegetables to mushrooms and meat, everything is a possibility. I’ve listed the most popular choices for tempura in this list:

  • Squid,
  • Crab,
  • Fugu,
  • Shiitake,
  • Maitake,
  • Eggplant,
  • Green beans,
  • Chicken,
  • Haddock,
  • Pollock,
  • Potato,
  • Carrots.

How Do You Make Tempura?

So, how can you prepare this exquisite dish at home? It’s simple – you just need to choose your base and make the tempura batter. There is always an option of using store-bought, but where’s the fun in that? Tempura batter is really easy to make – traditionally, it consists of only a few ingredients, and it doesn’t even need to be mixed a lot. The trick is to keep it a bit chunky to get the characteristic fluffiness once you fry the ingredients.

For the batter, you will need ice water (or carbonated, if you prefer), egg yolks, and all-purpose flour (remember, tempura isn’t gluten-free). Once that’s all combined in a bowl, prepare your base – if you’re using shrimp, make sure it’s properly peeled and cleaned.

Pour oil into the pot you will use for frying and heat it. When it reaches the desired temperature of about 375°F, dip the base into the batter and slowly drop it into the oil. Fry until golden brown. You might have to do this in a few batches.

Shrimp tempura in a bowl of noodles

What Can You Serve With Shrimp Tempura?

A lot of great dishes will go well with tempura, but if you want to stick to traditional side dishes, I have a few suggestions. You will commonly see tempura served in a tendon bowl (bowl of rice) or with soba noodles. Ramen noodles are an option as well. Of course, you can serve it on a plate with various sauces to add flavor or put rice next to it. Curried rice is also popular, and you can even serve fried or steamed vegetables. Don’t forget that a fresh salad will always go well with tempura.

Shrimp tempura, a bowl with soup, and a bowl with noodles next to it

Nutritional Value of Shrimp Tempura – Is It a Healthy Dish?

If you sometimes eat sushi, you probably know that this part of Japanese cuisine consists mostly of healthy dishes – salmon sashimi is the first thing that comes to my mind. So, is shrimp tempura as nutritionally beneficial as eating sashimi? Well, not exactly – in fact, tempura, in general, is considered quite unhealthy because it’s deep-fried food. That much oil isn’t healthy for anyone, even if you use the best oil for tempura, so you might want to keep track of how much of this dish you consume.

Of course, no one is saying that it shouldn’t be eaten ever – I’m a big believer in enjoying the food but in moderation. It’s important to know what you’re consuming, and to help you out, I’ve gathered the nutritional information on shrimp tempura in the table below. As you can see, a few pieces of tempura shrimp won’t do you any harm, so don’t hesitate to try this delicacy!

The portion of shrimp tempura1 shrimp
Calories58 kcal
Carbohydrates3.5 g
Fat3.1 g
Protein3.7 g
Sodium201 mg
Cholesterol34 mg

If You’d Like to Try Tempura, Shrimp Tempura Is an Excellent First Choice

As you can probably guess, tempura is one of everyone’s favorites – it makes sense, right? It’s basically deep-fried food, so how can you not like that? I know that you must be tempted to try it as soon as possible, but which one should you get first? Shrimp tempura is always a great choice, so you might want to give it a shot – unless you’re allergic to shrimp, there’s nothing you won’t love about this!