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Is Tempura Fattening?

author image Michelle Powell-Smith
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.
Is Tempura Fattening?
Tempura is a favorite both in and out of Japan. Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

Tempura can be vegetables, tofu or seafood, but it's always battered and deep-fried to a pale golden color. Depending on the style and desired result, the tempura coating can be quite light and delicate or much thicker. Tempura is traditionally served with soup, pickles and hot rice, as well as a daikon dipping sauce. In the West, it often appears on menus as an appetizer.

Seafood and Vegetables

Ingredients including seafood and vegetables are the basis for tempura. These foods offer an array of vitamins and minerals, particularly if you choose a variety for your tempura platter. Common tempura vegetables include onions, mushrooms, squash, eggplant, pumpkin and sweet potato. You may also find nori coated in tempura batter and fried.

The Batter

Tempura batter can be made from scratch or from a batter mix. Most tempura batters contain a mixture of rice flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. Some recipes add egg to the batter. You can combine the tempura mix or ingredients with water or club soda. You should only mix the ingredients lightly and leave the batter quite lumpy. Tempura batter consists entirely of refined carbohydrates and offers minimal nutrition.

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Unfortunately for healthy eaters, tempura is deep-fried in hot oil. The oil must be kept at a constant 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The total frying time is quite short, often less than two to three minutes. The amount of oil absorbed by the tempura depends on the temperature of your oil and thickness of the batter. Reduce the total fat in your finished dish by maintaining a correct oil temperature.

Calories and Fat

If you keep your portions reasonable, a serving of tempura can be a part of a healthy meal. Pair the higher-fat appetizer with sashimi or sushi to keep calories under control. A medium shrimp that has been battered with tempura batter and fried contains 60 calories and 4 g of fat. A typical portion of correctly cooked tempura contains around 430 calories and slightly less than 20 g of fat.

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