How to Make Extra Crispy Gluten-Free Tempura-Japanese Taste

How to Make Extra Crispy Gluten-Free Tempura

by Ayumi Matsuo

Gluten-Free Egg-Free

Tempura is a standard food that can be found anywhere in Japan, but in fact, its roots do not originate in Japan. Tempura actually originated in Portugal and was introduced to Japan during the Muromachi period (1300s). The Portuguese version used a thick batter to cover the ingredients, which is much different from tempura served today. In addition, oil was seen as a luxury item during those times, so the general public was not able to enjoy tempura easily.

After the Taisho period (1926), the style of tempura similar to the current style of light and crispy tempura served with a dipping sauce was established. After World War II, many oils and other common household ingredients became available, so tempura became a regular dish found in ordinary Japanese homes.

Tempura is served as a main dish at home or in tempura restaurants. Alternatively, it is also eaten as a combo meal with soba noodles at soba restaurants. Another delicious way it is enjoyed is as tendon - tempura served over a bowl of rice and drizzled with a sweet sauce.

The style of tempura differs a bit between the Kanto and Kansai regions.

The first noticeable difference is that the batter is different. The Kanto style of tempura uses a batter made from wheat flour, eggs, and water, while the Kansai style uses only wheat flour and water.

Second, the oil and frying methods are different.

Kanto style tempura is deep-fried at a high temperature for a short time using sesame oil, while Kansai style tempura is deep-fried at a low temperature for a long time using salad oil (what is known as vegetable oil in other countries).

Maybe you’re wondering, why are there such notable differences between the two regions? The reason for this lies in the ingredients used for tempura in Kanto and Kansai. In the Kanto region, where fish is often used as a tempura ingredient, sesame oil is used to remove the fishy smell. In the Kansai region, where vegetables are often used as tempura ingredients, salad oil is used to highlight the tastiness of the vegetables.

Today, we will introduce a Kansai-style tempura recipe, and we’ll also be making it gluten free! As mentioned previously, tempura contains wheat flour, but we will be making a gluten free version using rice flour, so that anyone can make this recipe at home! Tempura made with rice flour also becomes crispier!

As a side note, there are two main ways in which tempura is enjoyed in Japan. It is either served with Mentsuyu (concentrated Japanese soup base) with grated daikon radish, or salt. If you eat tempura at a restaurant, ask the waiter which style is recommended!


Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 25 mins

Total servings: 2

Difficulty: Medium

  • 70g Rice Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 100cc Cold Water
  • 4 Shrimps
  • 1/2 Japanese Sweet Potato
  • 1/2 Lotus Root
  • 1/2 Eggplant
  • 4 Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Vegetable Oil (For frying)
  • 1/2 Daikon (Japanese Radish)
  • Mentsuyu or Tentsuyu (Tempura dipping sauce)

Expert's Tip

How to Make Extra Crispy Gluten-Free Tempura

Mentsuyu is a seasoning made by combining dashi, mirin, and sugar with a soy sauce base. It's commonly used in noodle dishes such as soba, udon, and somen, as well as a dipping sauce for tempura or stewed dishes. It's a convenient staple found in every Japanese household.

Mentsuyu comes in different types: straight, which can be used as is, and concentrated, which needs to be diluted with water. Once opened, store it in the refrigerator, but remember that it has a short shelf life. The straight type will last about 3 days, while the concentrated type will last about 2 weeks. If you can't use it all in time, you can freeze it in small portions using an ice tray.


1) Preparing the Shrimp

Prepare the shrimp by removing the skin, spreading out the tails, cutting off the tail tips, and deveining them using a toothpick. To devein, insert the toothpick along the back of the shrimp and remove the vein.

Next, make incisions at 1 cm intervals along the back of the shrimp, starting from the tail. Be careful not to cut all the way through the shrimp. Repeat the incisions on the opposite side. This will help keep the shrimp straight after frying and give them the iconic shrimp tempura look.

Once both sides are incised, gently stretch the shrimp with your fingers to straighten them out.

2) Cutting the Vegetables

Prepare the vegetables: Cut the sweet potato, lotus roots and eggplant into small pieces. Cut off the stem of the shiitake mushrooms.

3) Preparing the Dipping Sauce Ingredients

Grate the daikon for the mentsuyu.

4) Making the Gluten Free Tempura Batter

Mix batter ingredients - rice flour, baking powder and cold water until just combined. Do not mix too much!

5) Frying the Tempura

Wipe off any excess water from the ingredients and ensure they are completely dry. Sprinkle a light amount of rice flour onto them. This will help the tempura batter adhere better to the ingredients, preventing flaking during frying.

Dip the ingredients into the batter and deep fry in oil for 2-3 minutes. Maintain a temperature of 160-165°C for vegetables and 170-175°C for shrimp. Ensure that your pot is filled with about 3cm of frying oil.

6) Serving the Tempura

Add grated daikon to the mentsuyu and serve with the freshly fried tempura. Enjoy your homemade gluten-free tempura!

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