National Tempura Day

Five Food Finds about Tempura

  • Tempura was introduced to Japan in the mid-sixteenth century by Portuguese Jesuits, during the same period that panko and such dishes as tonkatsu were also introduced from Portugal.
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, reportedly loved tempura.
  • The word “tempura”, or the technique of dipping fish and vegetables into a batter and frying them, comes from the word “tempora”, a Latin word meaning “times”, “time period” used by both Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period or Ember Days (ad tempora quadragesimae), Fridays, and other Christian holy days.
  • Outside Japan (as well as recently in Japan), there are many nontraditional and fusion uses of tempura. Chefs over the world include tempura dishes on their menus, and a wide variety of different batters and ingredients are used, including the nontraditional broccoli, zucchini, asparagus and chuchu.
  •  More unusual ingredients may include nori slices, dry fruit such as banana, and ice cream. American restaurants are known to serve tempura in the form of various meats, particularly chicken, and cheeses, usually mozzarella.

On this day in food history…

1618 Francis Bacon became Lord Chancellor of England.
1827 Sir Sanford Fleming was born. He devised the present system of time zones while working for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
1896 The ‘Fannie Farmer Cookbook’ was published.
1901 Alfred Packer is released from prison. He served 18 years for cannibalism after being stranded in the Rocky Mountains. (Actually he was convicted of murder, since cannibalism was not against the law).
1958 Ant Farms go on sale. Milton Levine had the idea at a July 4th family picnic. I wonder if he had dreams of fencing them in so they would not bother him at picnics?
1972 “American Pie” by Don McLean is #1 on the charts.

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