Tempura Donburi

February 21, 2023

The shrimp and vegetables tempura that top this Tempura Donburi are light and crisp. You could almost be in Japan if you ate this dish with the accompanying miso soup, a mountain of dipping sauce, and a cup of Japanese Sencha tea.

What is Donburi?

Donburi, which means “bowl” in Japanese, refers to any food accompanied by rice (and, true to its name, generally in an oversized bowl). When added as a suffix to a word, it is shortened to “don.”

Gyudon, Oyakodon, and Katsudon are all good examples (fried pork cutlet over rice). It’s called “ten don” (pronounced “ten dahn”) because the tempura is served in a donburi (a Japanese rice bowl).

Common Japanese Dishes

We all enjoy a night out on the town with sushi, blackened miso cod, or a heaping helping of tempura or katsu. Is there a reason for this?

This cookbook challenges readers to reconsider the stereotype that all Japanese cuisine is complicated to prepare, arguing that there are simple, delicious dishes that anyone can make at home.

The Secret To Perfectly Light and Crisp Tempura

The recipe for shrimp and vegetable tempura donburi in The Gaijin Cookbook sparked my imagination, and I set out to make it.

I’ve never made tempura before, but this version was a big hit with the family. We discovered some great tempura secrets through trial and error:

  • Keep the batter cool. The food you’re frying will stick better to the pan this way.
  • Once you’re done preparing the shrimp, put them in the fridge immediately to prevent them from turning that unappealing light orange color when left out at room temperature.
  • The tempura donburi recipe in the book calls for chopping/grating vegetables and shrimp, giving it a bibimbap-like twist. To make the vegetables more manageable, we opted for paper-thin slices of sweet potato, thicker slices of onion, and extremely bite-sized pieces of broccoli and oyster mushrooms. In addition, large, tail-on shrimp served whole.
  • Please make use of four forks, spoons, chopsticks, etc. For frying and dipping, minimize the amount of batter wasted in the frying pan. If sediment builds up in the oil, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve regularly.
  • The tempura should be fried for a moderate amount of time. The ingredients only need a short amount of time in the fryer before they are done, and tempura should never be overcooked. Vegetables are done after 45 to 90 seconds and a couple of flips, and shrimp are done when they float and are lightly golden and orange.
  • However, the frying temperature should be manageable so that the food turns golden as soon as it hits the oil, but it should be high enough that the food only takes longer than that to cook.

Do It Yourself Japanese Food And Save Money

True story: I was inspired to try this dish after a recent experience at a fantastic Japanese restaurant. I had only eaten a little all day, and the bill certainly didn’t reflect my desire to make up for lost time. I was on the verge of walking around the corner and picking up a slice of pizza for dessert.

Japanese soy sauce, mirin, dashi granules, seaweed, and miso paste are all inexpensive staples that can be used to make authentic Japanese dishes at home.

What’s more? Fried vegetables and seafood can include whatever you like. Please use what we’ve created here as a jumping-off point for further development.


For Dipping and Serving:

  • 3/4 cup of dashi stock
  • 2 tbsp. of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. of mirin
  • 4 cups of cooked Japanese short-grain rice
  • daikon radish (grated finely and squeezed in a clean dish towel to remove excess moisture)

For Frying:

  • 1 pc. of large sweet potato (peeled and sliced into thin rounds)
  • 1-2 pcs. ofmedium-sized sweet white onions (sliced into 1/2-inch rounds)
  • 2 small-sized heads of broccoli (torn into small individual florets)
  • 2 cups of oyster mushrooms (broken up into individual pieces)
  • 12 pcs. of large shrimp (peeled and deveined, leave the tail on)
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

For the Batter:

  • 1 3/4 cups of ice water
  • 1 1/4 cups of cake flour
  • 2 egg yolks


  1. Start the dipping sauce by mixing dashi stock, soy sauce, and mirin. To save time, we used instant dashi, but if you’d like to make your own, we include thorough instructions in our Miso Soup recipe. Make the rice to go with the tempura now.
  2. Afterward, prepare the vegetables by washing and trimming them as needed. To ensure that the vegetables are not soggy in the frying process, dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel or let them sit at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Before cooking, score the shrimp with a sharp knife so they can lay flat. This can be done lightly if you want to preserve some of the shrimp’s natural curve. Keep the shrimp in the fridge until it’s time to fry.
  4. In the next step, you’ll whip up the batter. Mix the cake flour, egg yolks, and ice water in a large bowl. Don’t worry about getting rid of every last lump by mixing too much. Put it in the fridge while you get the oil ready for frying.
  5. Over medium heat, warm half as much oil as will fill a small, deep pot. While that’s happening, place a wire rack on top of a sheet pan or a platter lined with paper towels. A drop of batter should sizzle strongly but not brown too quickly before cooking.
  6. Fry a single piece of shrimp or vegetable by swirling it in the batter, then lowering it gently into the batter (holding the shrimp by its tail if necessary). Fry in batches of three or four items for 45 to 90 seconds, tossing each item three or four times. Vegetables and shrimp are ready for the wire rack when they are golden on the outside, orange in the center, and still afloat.
  7. As you add cold food to the oil in batches, you may need to adjust the heat. For the best results when frying tempura, the oil should be hot enough to quickly cook the food without overcooking it, but not so hot that the food turns golden as soon as it enters the oil.
  8. Create a bed of steamed rice in the bottom of each bowl and top it with the tempura donburi toppings. Place some shrimp and vegetables on top of each serving. Prepare a bowl of miso soup to accompany the dipping sauce and grated daikon (if desired).
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