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I don’t like to eat fish, so when my blogger friend in Switzerland suggested I try making fish tempura, I had to give it a try. Sissi's original recipe is titled Ajiten or Horse Mackerel Tempura. Indeed tempura is lighter than battered fried fish. Not only because I served it with rice pilaf instead of chips, the batter itself was lighter and it didn’t toughen up by the next day as fried fish batters generally do. Sissi suggested soaking the fish in sake to get rid of the fishy taste. I didn’t have sake so I used Jim’s apple wine. I may have overdone the soaking; all I could taste was the wine! But tasting wine was better for me than tasting fish, haha. I tried not to fry it golden [I was glad she mentioned that, because my instinct would have been to fry the fish golden, but Sissi said fried tempura is yellowish white and never golden. Sissi also has directions how to test for the right temperature of oil, which is useful if you don’t have a candy thermometer. But I do have one so I just made sure my oil reached 350F before plunging in the fish.

Sissi’s other important advice:
1) the water should be the coldest possible, so mix the batter just before frying, when the oil is very hot
2) the batter should have lumps, without lumps it's not as light and airy.

4 white fish filets
3 tablespoons cooking sake
5 Tbsp tempura batter mix
3 Tbsp ice cold water

• Pour oil at least 2 inches deep into a deep wide skillet.
• Heat oil between 350-360F
• In a small bowl barely whisk together batter mix and ice cold water.
• Set bowl into larger bowl filled with ice cubes to keep batter cold.
• Pat fish dry with paper towels.
• Dip the fish into batter one at the time and carefully slide into hot oil.
• Deep fry 2-4 minutes until cooked and yellowish white, turning over once.
• Remove; drain on paper towels.
• Serve immediately.


  1. Wow! You have made it! They really look great! Congratulations! However, apple wine was maybe too strong and sweet to soak fish in it... I thought you would use for example white dry wine instead of sake...
    I only hope you enjoyed at least the light crust ;-)
    If you feel brave enough one day, you can try Nanban Zuke (fried fish marinated in vinegar and soy sauce).
    Thank you for linking to my blog!

  2. It was a dry wine, except I got carried away and soaked the life out of the fish. In a few days the Asian store should open and I will get some sake. I want to make this again. I am grateful for all of your help Sissi. But I am not ready for Nanban Zuke just yet. ;-)

  3. I thought nanban zuke woudl sound more European to you (my mum used to marinate fried fish with spices and she isn't Japanese ;-) ). I hope soaking in sake will improve the taste!

  4. I just don't want to go overboard with this fish thing. On Christmas Eve my family would have deep fried breaded carp, but they always did a breaded pork chop for me. Imagine my horror when I moved to a fishing town on the west coast of British Columbia and everywhere my husband and I were invited we had to eat fish. Correction, he ate fish. It's a wonder I didn't become a vegetarian while in Prince Rupert. hahaha

  5. Zsuzsa, I hate carp so much I can fully understand. In fact I never really liked fish, apart from the holidays when I was small and my father would fish fresh small fish and my mum would fry them. Back home there was either carp for Christmas or frozen tasteless piece of breaded fish and actually only maybe two good fish dishes (or even one... I must post it one day). From what my Hungarian friends say the situation is similar in Hungary... The only fish I really loved was smoked fish (especially mackerel) which we ate very often.
    My friends who grew up in the countries where fish is eaten more often and in various forms, varieties, dishes etc. like fish a lot. The older I am the more I think most likes/dislikes and in general attitude towards food come from our childhood experience. Luckily I had this freshly caught fish experience when I was small and started to love fish when I travelled to France and discovered grilled tuna, fresh grilled sardines on the seaside etc.. On the other hand I still find cooking fish very tricky and it's hard to realise every fish is as different as, say pork and chicken, and one has to adapt the spices, the method of cooking, marinating to every fish...




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