Japanese Eggplant Tempura with Dipping Soy Sauce
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Diagonal thin slices of Japanese eggplant, coated in Panko breadcrumbs dived into the searing hot oil in the hot wok. The batter clung tight around the sliced vegetables. Once the eggplants dropped into the pan, the spirally spheres blossomed bigger, the color turning from a purple to a light golden brown. The aroma of pan seared vegetables on the outdoor grill’s open flame clearly drove the neighbors insane. I could sense it. But no one was invited. I was having this eggplant tempura all to myself tonight.
What do Filipinos do on a hot, scorching summer day? We deal with it by deep-frying food till the crisp slices threaten to fall off when gingerly touched. I’m talking about crunchy, indulgent Japanese eggplants cooked tempura style. I made some on this hot sticky summer day. It’s the kind of meal that cooks quickly. So I deep-fried these eggplant slices on our outdoor grill’s open burner for supper.
Tempura is a Japanese meal which is is almost like most Filipino food. Typically, a tempura platter consists of crunchy shrimps and vegetables, served with a dipping soy sauce thickened with a broth and grated radish, and accompanied by a bowl of steamed jasmine white rice.
For this 100-degree day, I served an all-eggplant tempura meal. It was light and easy, yet the crackle from the deep-fried slices gave us the much-needed hearty fullness.
So this is why on an unrelenting, hot summer day, Filipinos know how to cope. We make terrific eggplant tempura, the Filipino-food way and savor the slowness of the summer. Yes, we can take the heat any day because we’re used to hot weather. Just like we’re used to a good tempura meal. Give us the crunch, and give us the heat and we’ll take it all in!
A big Thank You to Huffington Post Food for featuring this Japanese Eggplant Tempura on their tempura line up of recipes.
Japanese Eggplant Tempura with Dipping Soy Sauce
- large wok
- Deep Fry Thermometer
- 4 to 5 whole Asian eggplants thinly sliced, diagonal; from Asian markets; or use regular aubergines sliced in 2-inch length pieces
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 whole egg chilled
- 3/4 cup ice cold water
- 1/3 cup + 1/2 teaspoon Hondashi dashi stock from Asian markets
- 3 Tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons sake
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon grated daikon radish liquid squeezed off
- steamed jasmine white rice for serving
- Wash the eggplants and dry with a paper towel. Cut diagonally in thin slices, measuring about 2-inches per slice. The eggplants cook quicker when slices are thin. Also, cut them up while the oil is heating up. The eggplants’ inner flesh tends to darken if left open for too long.Preheat the vegetable oil in the large wok over high heat. If you have a deep-fry thermometer the ideal temperature for the oil in this recipe is 170 C. Or if you dip wooden chopsticks in the oil and you see small bubbles around it, then the oil is ready for frying. *Note: Do not deep-fry if oil is burnt. This affects the tempura's flavor.
- Mix the tempura batter ingredients in a bowl : Flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, egg and ice water. Batter should be a bit lumpy. *Note: Use ice cold water and a chilled egg
- Dip the eggplant slices into the batter. Then roll it in a bowl of Panko bread crumbs. Drop them a little at a time into the hot wok with oil. Pan fry for 2 to 3 minutes per eggplant slice. Drain the cooked slices on a paper towel or parchment paper to remove excess oil.
- Separately,mix in a small bowl the dipping sauce. Blend together the dashi stock, soy sauce, sake, sugar. Pour this in a small saucepan and over medium high heat, boil the ingredients. The sauce will boil in about five minutes. Turn off the heat. Pour this over the grated daikon radish in a small bowl. Serve together with the sizzling crisp eggplant tempura and a large serving of steamed jasmine white rice.
- COOK’S COMMENTS: Nami’s deep-fying suggestion : “ You want to bring the oil to 170C( 338F). Check the temperature with a thermometer. Or if you dip chopsticks in the oil, you will see small bubbles around it. It’s ready for deep frying.”
Nutrition Notes: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Does Filipino Japanese restaurant serve tempura with Panko all the time? For us, panko is only used for Tonkatsu (pork cutlet), croquette, etc, and Tempura is just flour only. Someone told me a while ago that she always thought tempura has panko in it too.
Eggplant is my favorite veggies and I always keep eggplant and sweet potato last when I order assorted tempura (normally you keep shrimp?). I should make tempura outside just like you did. That way my kitchen won’t be too smelly… but honestly for delicious tempura I’d deep fry anytime… haha. Thanks so much for the mention!
Hi Nami! Thanks for inspiring me to cook this recipe. And thanks for the information on how Panko breadcrumbs are only used on Tonkatsu (pork cutlets). Yes, in the Philippines, I’ve seen Panko crumbs used on tempura. I guess Filipinos just love the extra crunch. Glad you stopped by. It’s always nice to have a friendly visit from you 🙂
I thought tempura was flour only but I LOVE panko on anything so this would make me smile from ear to ear. There is nothing not to love about this dish.
Hi Maureen! You are right, Nami (Just One Cookbook) just told me that Panko breadcrumbs are used on Tonkatsu. But in Filipino restaurants, I’ve seen them use Panko on tempura. Like I said earlier, we just love all that crunchiness! Thanks for the blog-visit!
How beautiful!! I love eggplants and these look delicious!
Thanks, Pola! Glad you liked the photo of my eggplant tempura. I took these shots right after they came off the pan & had to hurry because we were hungry! Nice of you to visit my blog 🙂
I agree with you! Filipinos love crunch in their meals. I also love tortang talong (eggplant omelet) served with a generous serving of rice, and the ever-reliable seasoning bottle on the side to make it more flavorful. I might invite myself to your lunch/dinner at this rate! 🙂
Hi Gio! Oh you just gave me a vision of tortang talong. I have some more Japanese eggplants & might make it tomorrow. Too bad we all live far apart, otherwise it would be nice for our KCC group to have a big Filipino bash! Thanks for the blog-visit & kind comments!
I love how Panko is used for tempura… It must have added so much texture ..right.
I love this… I enjoy vegetable tempura/fritters so this is so going to make me very happy!!!
Thanks, Reem. These eggplants were terrific. You’ll love them. Glad you came by !
Elizabeth, would you be my chef please 😉 You post such delicious dishes! I wish I had the time and energy to make these japanese eggplant tempura (and everything else)… drooling just looking at the photos…
Hi Catherine! You are so kind. This eggplant tempura is very quick and easy to do. You can do this in no time. Thanks for stopping by!
I love tempura vegetables and these look delicious. The finger eggplants are a favourite of mine. I use them in Thai curries. Your dish looks very tasty xx
Hi Hotly Spiced! Yes, these tempura vegetables were really delish! And I agree, the eggplants are a fave of mine, too. Thanks for the kind comments & visit.
Fried eggplant is amazing. This looks like perfection.
Thanks, Jen! So nice of you to stop by!
Can I use rice flour instead of all purpose? Is there an egg replacement ? Sorry I am allergic to both . Let me know! Thanks
Hi, Divya – yes you can use rice flour. I have not used an egg replacement for this recipe yet. But you’re free to try any egg substitute that you are familiar with.