National Tempura Day Date in the current year: January 7, 2024

National Tempura Day January 7 is the perfect day to go out to your favorite Japanese or pan-Asian restaurant because it is National Tempura Day. This amazing holiday was created to remind people that Japanese cuisine has so much more to offer than just sushi and sashimi.

Tempura is a Japanese fritter-style dish that consists of seafood, meat and vegetables that have been battered and briefly deep-fried in hot oil. The technique of deep-frying battered food items was brought to Japan in the 16th century by Portuguese missionaries, who often ate battered and deep-fried green beans called peixinhos da horta (“garden fish”) during periods of fasting, when they were not permitted to eat meat. The Japanese word tempura derives from Latin tempora, “times [of fasting]”.

Modern tempura batter recipes were developed by Tokyo food stall owners in the early 17th century, who invented a light batter consisting of eggs, flour and iced water. The low temperature of water and minimal mixing prevents gluten in the flour from activating and results in the fluffy and crispy texture of the fried batter, which is considered one of the main characteristics of tempura. Tempura batter is never seasoned, not even with salt.

Traditional Japanese tempura usually consists of seafood (shrimp, prawn, squid, scallop, crab, various fish), vegetables (bamboo shoots, squash, eggplant, green beans, okra, lotus root, sweet potato, yam), or mushrooms. Outside Japan and in some non-traditional Japanese restaurants, tempura dishes can be made with vegetables that are not common in Japan (asparagus, broccoli, zucchini), various types of meet, mozzarella and other cheeses, and even ice cream.

It should be noted that not every deep-fried dish in Japanese cuisine can be called tempura. For example, breaded and deep-fried dishes of Japanese cuisine are called furai (Japanese pronunciation of “fry”) and never tempura. A popular example of furai is katsu, a breaded and deep-fried meat cutlet: tonkatsu (pork cutlet), tori katsu (chicken cutlet), menchi-katsu (ground-meat patty), hamu katsu (ham), etc. Tonkatsu is often used as the basis for various dishes such as katsudon.

The origins of National Tempura Day are unclear, but this unofficial holiday was probably invented by a fan of Japanese cuisine. Celebrate it by going to a Japanese restaurant and sampling their selection of tempura dishes. You can also try making tempura at home; it’s not the easiest dish to make, but once you get a hang of it, you can enjoy delicious Japanese fritters as often as you want.

Do you know that everything tastes better when you share it with a friend? National Tempura Day is a great occasion to host a Japanese-themed dinner party and enjoy a variety of Japanese dishes: tempura, sushi, noodles, gyoza, mochi, onigiri, rice bowls (donburi) with various toppings, teriyaki chicken, miso soup, edamame beans, and more.

And don’t forget share your love for Japanese food and spread the word about the holiday on social media using the hashtags #NationalTempuraDay and #TempuraDay in order to encourage others to celebrate because the more the merrier!

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National Tempura Day, unofficial holidays, observances in the US, food days, Japanese cuisine, tempura