The Strange History of Tempura

You might know tempura as a classic Japanese preparation of meats and vegetables, battered and deep-fried into that distinctly delicious dish you can find at all of your favorite restaurants. At our Lynnwood Japanese Restaurant, you can enjoy this fried classic in many of your favorite forms. But what is the story behind tempura, exactly? The answer may surprise you.

If you’re familiar with the Japanese language, you may have noticed that there’s something off about tempura. After all, the word cannot be properly written with the Japanese alphabet. This is because “tempura” is not a native Japanese word.

Tempura was actually introduced to Japan at some point in the sixteenth century, when missionaries from Portugal and Spain arrived in the country. Though the specific facts are lost to history, it is thought that the name was derived from the Portuguese word “tempero”, which translates to “condiment” or “seasoning”. You can actually find a dish similar to the Japanese tempura in Portugal to this day, which goes under the name peixinhos da horta.