Thank you, Catherine Tate.

Battered veg. With spicy jam. That works for me. I love anything fried.

Thai tempura, or Hoi Tot, is a style of deep fat frying similar to that of the Japanese but suited of course to the climate, palates and product availability of the Thai people. Food from Thailand.

The Japanese themselves learned to batter and fry food from Portuguese missionaries who arrived on the shores of Japan in the mid 16th century– just enough time for the trend to take hold, via street vendors, before the country turned its back on the rest of the world for the next 250 years. Before the arrival of the Portuguese, the Japanese had apparently no knowledge of deep frying and only limited understanding of the frying process in general. But, as with so many other things, the Japanese turned an inherently foreign concept into something very much their own. Like the automobile, imperialism, or anything cute.

The word tempura is derived from the Portuguese tempero (seasoning). The character used for writing tempura is the same as is used for “heaven”. On a brief side note, the Japanese word for thank you, arigato, is said to be derived from the Portuguese obrigado. Although this bit of etymology is fascinating, I find it difficult to believe that such a polite society didn’t know how to say “thank you” until the Portuguese came along. I now also wonder if tempura and tempera — the most popular type of paint from ancient Egyptian times until the 15th century when oil paints were developed– stem from the same root, since they are both egg-based media. Of course, egg is now seldom used in the making of tempura batter and tempera paints are such a bitch to work with that painters tend to avoid them. Coincidence? I think not.

I had planned to make and photograph my own tempura, but that’s a rather tricky feat taking action photos of oneself. Especially when hot oil is involved. Besides, I found someone better, or at least more experienced, but probably better, than myself. Say hello to Reiko at Hell, say hello to everyone at Videojug, though I’m not sure they can hear you.

Warning: There is no spicy jam in this video.

VideoJug: How To Make Vegetable Tempura

Tempura 13 July,2007Michael Procopio

  • Hamster

    Hi. If you are interested in Thai cooking be interested in this website.
    It’s got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
    Good if you like to try cooking Thai food at home

  • umetaro

    “Before the arrival of the Portuguese, the Japanese had apparently no knowledge of deep frying and only limited understanding of the frying process in general.”

    The next time you get the urge to rely on wikipedia as a reference for any kind of historical fact, take a moment to punch yourself in the face before doing so.


    “Kara” referring to T’ang dynasty China (or the Gaya Confederacy depending on who you ask) and “age” meaning “fry.”

    And really, how believable is it that a culture so directly influenced by China would know nothing about frying?

    Also, regarding the arigatou/obrigado link…

  • Michael Procopio

    Consider my face well punched.

  • umetaro

    great, now i feel like an ass. this is the internet, mang! you’re supposed to tell me i’m wrong and denigrate my genealogy! i’m gonna have to go and punch myself in the face now.

    btw, here’s a really great thai food blog.


Michael Procopio

I am terribly fond of martinis, Edward Gorey, and sleeping with many pillows.
You are more than welcome to follow me on Twitter: @procopster

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