Tempura is a delicious and widely popular dish often enjoyed in Japanese cuisine. It is a classic dish made from seafood or vegetables, battered and deep-fried to achieve a crispy outer layer. When used in sushi, tempura refers to the technique of deep-frying ingredients before adding them to sushi rolls or nigiri toppings. In this way, tempura is used to add texture, flavor, and versatility to sushi dishes, making them even more appealing to sushi lovers all over the world.

What is Tempura?

Tempura is a popular Japanese dish that involves deep-frying seafood, vegetables, or meat, coated in a light batter. The batter usually consists of flour, egg, water, and sometimes, spices for flavor. The dish has become a staple in Japanese cuisine and is often served as a side dish, appetizer, or as a topping on sushi rolls.

The Origins of Tempura

The origins of tempura can be traced back to the 16th century when Portuguese missionaries arrived in Japan. The Portuguese introduced a dish called “peixinhos da horta,” which consisted of vegetables dipped in batter and deep-fried. The Japanese modified the recipe by using seafood instead of vegetables, and tempura was born.

What Does Tempura Mean in Sushi?

When it comes to sushi, tempura is a popular topping that adds a crispy texture to the rolls. Tempura rolls are a modern twist on traditional sushi and have become increasingly popular in recent years. The most common ingredients used in tempura sushi rolls are shrimp, crab, and vegetables. The tempura batter adds a unique flavor to the sushi rolls, making them a favorite among sushi lovers.

Key takeaway: Tempura is a popular Japanese dish that involves deep-frying seafood, vegetables, or meat, coated in a light batter. When it comes to sushi, tempura is a popular topping that adds a crispy texture to the rolls, making it a modern twist on traditional sushi. However, there are many misconceptions about tempura that need to be cleared up. It is not unhealthy, difficult to make, or limited to seafood as an ingredient. Tempura has become a staple in Japanese cuisine and is enjoyed all over the world, making it a versatile and delicious dish to try.

How to Make Tempura Sushi Rolls

Making tempura sushi rolls is relatively easy. Here is a step-by-step guide:


  • 2 cups of sushi rice
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 sheets of nori seaweed
  • Tempura shrimp or vegetables
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger


  1. Cook the sushi rice according to the package instructions.
  2. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Mix well and let it cool.
  4. Lay a sheet of nori seaweed on a sushi mat and spread a layer of rice on top, leaving about an inch of space at the end.
  5. Add your choice of tempura shrimp or vegetables on top of the rice.
  6. Roll the sushi tightly, using the mat to help you shape it.
  7. Slice the sushi into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Common Misconceptions about Tempura

There are many misconceptions about tempura that need to be cleared up. Here are a few:

Tempura is Unhealthy

While tempura is a fried dish, it does not have to be unhealthy. The batter used in tempura is light, and the dish is usually served in small portions. Additionally, tempura is often made with seafood and vegetables, which are both healthy foods.

Tempura is Difficult to Make

Tempura is actually quite easy to make. The key is to use a light batter and to fry the ingredients at the right temperature. With a little practice, anyone can make delicious tempura.

Tempura is Just Fried Food

Tempura is much more than just fried food. The light batter used in tempura allows the flavor of the ingredients to shine through, making it a popular dish in Japanese cuisine.

Tempura is Only Eaten in Japan

While tempura is a popular dish in Japan, it is also eaten around the world. Many Japanese restaurants serve tempura as an appetizer or side dish. Additionally, tempura has been incorporated into other cuisines, such as Chinese and Korean.

Tempura is Always Made with Seafood

While seafood is a popular ingredient in tempura, it is not the only ingredient that can be used. Vegetables, such as sweet potato, onion, and eggplant, can also be used to make delicious tempura.

FAQs for the topic: what does tempura mean in sushi

What is tempura?

Tempura is a Japanese dish that involves deep-frying seafood, vegetables, or sometimes meat in a light and crispy batter. The batter is made with a mix of wheat-based flour, baking powder, corn starch, and cold water. The dish is one of the most popular in Japan and has become popular worldwide, with many Japanese restaurants outside of Japan serving tempura.

What Does Tempura Mean in Sushi?

In sushi, tempura is a type of filling that is used to add texture and flavor to the sushi roll. It is used to refer to deep-fried sticks or slices of vegetables or seafood that are put in sushi rolls. The filling is typically coated with tempura batter before being deep-fried and then cut into thin slices for sushi rolls.

What are the Thai and Japanese Tempuras Differences?

While both Japanese and Thai tempura are battered and deep-fried seafood or vegetables, there are some differences between the two. Japanese tempura has thinner batter and is lightly fried, while Thai tempura is heavily battered and fried to a darker, crunchier texture. Additionally, Japanese tempura uses a more delicate batter that enhances the natural flavors of the filling, while the Thai-style batter is seasoned with herbs and spices.

What are the common tempura ingredients used in sushi?

There are several ingredients that are typically used for tempura in sushi rolls. These include shrimp, crab, avocado, asparagus, sweet potato, zucchini, and mushrooms, among others. One of the most popular among these is shrimp tempura, which is used in the famous California roll.

Can I make tempura sushi at home?

Yes! With some practice and preparation, it is possible to make tempura sushi at home. You will need to deep-fry the tempura filling ingredients in a batter made from a mixture of wheat flour, cornstarch, and cold water. Then you can slice the filling into thin slices and add it to your preferred sushi roll. With a little practice, you can enjoy the delicious taste and crunchy texture of tempura sushi from the comfort of your kitchen.