Tempura vs. Katsu vs. Furai: Agemono Dishes

Agemono (揚げ物), literally meaning deep-fried thing in Japanese, is the generic name for deep-fried foods,

such as Tempura (天ぷら), Karaage (唐揚げ), Kakiage (かき揚げ), Katsu (カツ), and Furai (フライ).

Many overseas people may have heard of these popular Japanese dishes, but it seems some can’t tell how they differ from one another.

For those, I wrote about the difference between Tempura, Karaage, and Kakiage before. 

So this time, let me explain how Tempura, Katsu, and Furai differ.

Tempura (天ぷら) vs. Katsu (カツ) 

Tempura (天ぷら)Tempura

As you know, Tempura (天ぷら) is a type of Agemono consisting of one piece of ingredient battered and then deep-fried in vegetable oil (traditionally in sesame oil).

The batter for Tempura is generally made with hen’s egg, soft wheat flour, and cold water.

And typical ingredients are seafood and vegetables, such as prawn, squid, conger-eel, eggplant, asparagus, sweet potato, pumpkin, maitake, and shiitake mushroom.

We usually eat those fried foods with the Tentsuyu (天つゆ) dipping sauce made from dashi stock, soy sauce, and mirin sweet cooking rice wine.

Katsu (カツ)

Tonkatsu (豚カツ)Ton-katsu

On the other hand, Katsu (カツ) is the Japanese word for cutlet, and its main ingredient is usually meat, typically beef, chicken, or pork.

This Agemono consists of a slice of meat battered, breaded with panko breadcrumbs, and deep-fried in lard or vegetable oil. Unlike Tempura, Katsu features its brown, crispy panko covering.

Before eating, we dress it with Tonkatsu sauce, a thick, sweet Japanese-style Worcester sauce, and eat it with Karashi yellow mustard.

When Japanese people speak, I want to eat Katsu, it usually refers to Tonkatsu (豚カツ) pork cutlet, the quintessential Katsu variety.

Katsu (カツ) vs. Furai (フライ)

Ebi Furai (海老フライ)Ebi Fry

There is no big difference in cooking method and eating manner between Katsu and Furai (Fry), but these Agemono dishes differ primarily in ingredients used.

While Katsu usually uses a slice of pork, beef, or chicken, the main ingredient of Furai is seafood or vegetables, 

and representative varieties include Ebi Furai (海老フライ: Prawn Fry), Kaki Furai (カキフライ: Oyster Fry), and Onion Ring Furai (オニオンリングフライ: Onion Ring Fry).

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 天ぷら, カツ, フライ (料理) )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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