Japanese VegetableTempura Recipe

For today’s post, I feature a recipe by my niece-by-marriage Phoebe Gayle Cabatingan. Phoebe is an artist, which shows in everything she does.  She lives in Cebu, Philippines with her husband and adorable little daughter. She raises and sells cactus and succulents as a business (I Love Cactii)  and makes these plants living works of art.

This is her kick-ass calling card header.

japanese vegetable tempura recipe

And this is her current business logo. If you are ever in Cebu, Philippines (a popular tourist destination, by the way), check her out in person and commission an artwork or two. You can also check out her facebook page at ILoveCactii.

japanese vegetable tempura recipe


Now, on to Phoebe’s vegetable tempura recipe.

Vegetable tempura is a popular  vegetarian choice at Japanese restaurants. It is made of thinly sliced vegetables, battered and deep-fried. Served with a light dipping sauce, it is great as an appetizer or as an entree, most often served with shrimp tempura and a dipping sauce called tentsuyu.

Miso soup is soup made of seaweed and dashi stock. Diced tofu and sliced green onions are also added. This is traditionally eaten as part of a Japanese breakfast but Japanese restaurants everywhere else serve it as introduction to a meal.

japanese vegetable tempura recipe


  • A Bit Of History

    The Japanese style of deep-frying vegetables and seafood originated  from Portuguese missionaries who came to Japan  in the late 16th century. They introduced the ‘fritter’ style of cooking. It became a way for them to fulfill the Catholic rules of fasting every quarter, the Latin name for which is ‘Quatuor Tempora‘.  So now you know where the word ‘tempura’ came from; it is not a Japanese word after all. Fascinating, isn’t it?

    This style of cooking became very popular in Southern Japan because seafood was plentiful and these tempura goodies were conveniently sold by streetcart vendors.

Japanese Vegetable Tempura Recipe

Vegetable tempura is a popular vegetarian choice at Japanese restaurants. It is made of thinly sliced vegetables, battered and deep-fried. Served with a light dipping sauce, it is great as an appetizer or as an entree, most often served with shrimp tempura and a dipping sauce called tentsuyu.

Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Filipino, Japanese
Keyword easy miso soup recipe, japanese vegetable tempura recipe, healthy eating, filipino cooking
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Maria


Vegetables - pick 2 to 3 cups vegetables suitable for frying, following are examples

  • squash
  • eggplant if using Asian eggplants, slice on the diagonal to create more surface area
  • white onion
  • Mushrooms slice in half if big
  • Green beans no need to slice
  • asparagus cut in half
  • bell peppers
  • broccoli
  • zucchini slice on the diagonal

​For the Batter

  • 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour * Note
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup club soda , cold water can also be used

For the dipping sauce, if you want home-made

  • 1 cup dashi soup stock *Note
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar

For the Miso Soup

  • 1/4 cup dried wakame s seeaweed, see below for options
  • 2 tbsp miso fermented soybean paste, see below
  • 3 cups dashi can be made from powder mix, see below
  • 1/4 lb soft tofu cut into small cubes
  • 3 cups dashi (soup stock, see below)
  • 2 tbsp scallions sliced thin


Vegetable tempura:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients: flour, salt, pepper, baking powder
  2. Gradually mix in the club soda
  3. Set aside
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or deep frying pan, about 2 - 3 inches deep
  5. Working in batches, coat vegetable pieces in batter and fry over medium high heat until golden (about 3 minutes for each batch)
  6. Place cooked vegetables on a plate lined with paper towels

​Tempura Dipping sauce

  1. Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and mix well
  2. ​Bring to a boil.
  3. remove from heat and let cool
  4. serve in cute little bowls

​Miso soup

  1. Reconstitute dried wakame by combining it with warm water and letting it sit about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir miso and 1/4 cup dashi in a bowl until miso is dissolved
  3. Heat remaining dashi in a pot on medium heat until hot, and gently add tofu and wakame
  4. Simmer for a minute and remove from heat
  5. Mix in miso mixture and green scallions​

Recipe Notes

Note1: Some people use cake flour for a lighter and fluffier coating. You can try which one you like better.

Note2: Dashi stock can be made from dashi powder, purchased at Asian food market or online

Note3: Do not overmix the batter and do not coat the vegetables with too much batter.

Here are some links to Japanese products that you need for this meal if you want to create an authentic meal. Note that tempura dipping sauce can be bought ready-made in the Asian aisle of your grocery store. You can also buy the miso soup in a packet and combine it with hot water for a quick soup.

If you want to buy tempura dipping sauce, click Tempura Sauce.

For the mirin sauce needed in the homemade dipping sauce, click Mirin Sauce.

For the dashi stock with bonito flakes for the miso soup and the dipping sauce click Dashi Stock Mix with Bonito Flakes.

For the dried wakame (seaweed) for the miso soup, click Dried Wakame.

For the miso needed in miso soup, click Fermented Miso Paste.

What to Do with Used Tempura Oil?

Purists do not advise reusing the oil for another batch of tempura but you can use it for other dishes that are not as delicate.

If your city has a recycling collection program, you can recycle it to be turned into biodiesel. Do not pour it down sink as it will clog your pipes and possibly contaminate the water supply.

Mix it with an absorbent material like cat litter and throw it in the trash.

In Japan where, as expected, there is a lot of used tempura oil, there is a product called  Katameru Tempuru that they pour into the oil to solidify it. When it hardens, it is thrown into the appropriate recycling bin as burnable garbage.

Health Benefits of Tempura

Most of the health benefits will come from the vegetables that you fry. Unfortunately, the method of deep frying can lead to a dish loaded in fat. You can still reduce the amount of fat by maintaining cooking oil heat of 375 Fahrenheit (no less)  and not using too much batter so as not to absorb too much oil.

Seaweed used in the miso soup has a lots of nutrients and minerals. Tofu also has a lot of good benefits and is a big part of most vegetarian diets.

It is best to eat tempura  in moderation and balance it out by eating sushi or sashimi as part of the meal.

What do You Think?

If you have ever been to a Japanese restaurant, chances are you have eaten tempura. Now, you know you can make it yourself. This allows you the flexibility of choosing the vegetables  you want to make into tempura and will let you control the amount of batter that you want.

Lastly, I want to thank Phoebe Gayle for sharing her recipe and professional-looking picture  with us.  I hope to see more contributions from her in the future. Visit her on her facebook page  ILoveCactii.

Kain Na! (Let’s Eat) or as they say in Japanese  –  Meshiagare 召し上がれ







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