Crispy Fish Tempura Bites

A staple of most Japanese restaurants in the U.S. is Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura.  Because they are battered and deep fried, they are very familiar to and popular among Americans, especially those who don’t want to venture into sashimi or pickled eggplant territory, namely people like my son.

I bought a frozen package of Orange Roughy at  Trader Joe’s awhile ago and decided to make tempura with it.  I prefer fresh fish but you can’t beat the price of frozen sometimes!  Orange Roughy is very mild and doesn’t impart a fishy smell or strong fish flavor.  Cod or Haddock would work well too – ala English Fish and Chips.

I soaked my fillets in some milk for about 30 minutes before cooking just in case there was any lingering “frozen fish” flavor, but you could probably skip this step if you’re pressed for time.

You can make tempura batter from scratch (1 egg, about 1 ¼ cup ice water, and 1 2/3 cup flour mixed together), but I always use a Japanese mix because I think it is a little lighter in texture.

The secret to good tempura batter yielding a light and crispy texture when cooked is using ice water.  It’s OK to leave the ice cubes in the batter.

Instead of deep frying , I’ve found that bite sized pieces of fish fillets are small enough to be sautéed in a pan with considerably less oil.

My husband loves these dipped in a duck sauce and my son loves them with ketchup.  You can also make a more traditional dip by mixing 1  cup dashi, 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 3 tablespoons mirin together.

If there are leftovers (not likely!), the tempura can be toasted for about 3-4 minutes in a toaster oven for a crunch infusion, and they are very good the next day.

Fish Tempura Bites

3-4 fillets of Orange Roughy or other mild fish

Milk for soaking (optional)

1 cup tempura batter mix

1 cup ice water with ice cubes

Oil for sautéing

Condiments for dipping

  1. Defrost fish in cold water.  Soak in milk for about 30 minutes.
  2. Cut fillets into bite sized pieces.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Stir tempura mix with ice water and ice cubes in a large bowl.
  5. Dredge fish in batter and sauté in skillet.  When edges are golden brown, flip pieces of fish and sauté other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes in total.
  6. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with condiments of choice.


Filed under Fish

15 responses to “Crispy Fish Tempura Bites

  1. Amy

    I love tempura…these look like they would be very addictive! My mouth is watering! 🙂

  2. Great idea to make them smaller to fit in a saute pan. Cooks faster so you can eat faster 🙂

  3. Thanks for the milk tip! What a great idea to tempura small pieces of fish. I recently made tempura calamari but never thought to make fish. My husband and stepdaughter love frozen fish sticks but I refuse to buy them. This would be a great alternative. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Oh and I agree, taco wontons are definitely West Coast! LOL.

  4. Dear Melissa!
    Well done!
    Tempura are such little beauties, aren’t they!
    Hubby is definitely right with duck sauce!
    Try them with just a little matcha!
    Best regards,

  5. I sure love tempura! They look so crispy and delicious!

  6. Ursula Chong

    How can I buy that brand of tempura mix?
    Looks so light and crispy. Just the way I like my tempura. : )

  7. Ursula Chong

    What is the name brand?
    We have some tempura mixes here but does not have the same light and crispy texture you got from this particular brand posted on your page.

    Thank you,

    : )

    • Hmmm. It’s all in Japanese. I believe it is the Nishimoto Trading Co., LTD. There is a big “N” on the front and an English label in the back. Hope this helps! It is very light and crispy! The ice cubes also help. 🙂

  8. Yohannes Bodewijn

    for that style of tempura, it can be keept in the freezer for the preparation? and, how long it will stay in good condition in the freezer?
    So, we just fried that tempura from the freezer.. TQ

    • I was using frozen raw fish, not frozen after cooking it with the tempura batter… I’ve never tried freezing afterward like that… Was it OK? I’ve seen it sold like that in stores… But I don’t know how they prepare it for freezing…

    • Also, about how long to keep the Franzen raw fish in the freezer… I’ve kept it in for quite awhile.. Several months? But I would go with whatever it recommends on the bag!

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