The Difference between Tempura, Katsu, and Furai (Fried)
“Agemono (揚げ物)” is the generic name for Japanese 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: fried)”.
Many overseas people may have heard of these popular Japanese dishes, but it seems that many of them can’t clearly tell the difference between them.
Since I talked about the difference between Tempura, Karaage, and Kakiage that many people especially want to know before, this time let me explain the difference between Tempura, Katsu, and Furai (fried) that sometimes becomes a topic of conversation.
The Difference between Tempura and Katsu
As you know, Tempura is the Agemono made by covering one piece of ingredient in batter, and then deep-frying it in vegetable oil like sesame oil.
The batter for Tempura is made from hen’s egg and wheat flour, and the typical ingredients of Tempura are seafood and vegetables, such as prawn, squid, conger-eel, eggplant, asparagus, sweet potato, pumpkin, maitake and shiitake mushrooms.
We usually eat Tempura dipping the deep-fried ingredient in “Tentsuyu (天つゆ)“. Tentsuyu is the dipping sauce for Tempura that is made with “Dashi (出汁)” soup stock, soy sauce, and Mirin sweet cooking rice wine.
Katsu is the Japanese abbreviation for cutlet, so generally its main ingredient is meat such as beef, chicken and pork.
The basic making method of this Agemono is to coat sliced meat with wheat flour, dip the meat in beaten egg, dredge it with breadcrumbs, and then deep-fry in plenty of oil.
Unlike Tempura, Katsu is characterized by its crispy breadcrumb coating and eaten with Tonkatsu sauce, a thick rich Worcestershire sauce.
When we Japanese just say “Katsu”, in many cases that means “Tonkatsu (豚カツ : pork cutlet)“.
The Difference between Katsu and Furai (fried)
Ebi Furai (海老フライ)
There is no big difference in cooking method and eating manner between Katsu and Furai, but Katsu is made from sliced meat covered in batter, while Furai usually refers to the deep-fried seafood or vegetable with a crispy breadcrumb coating.
In other words, the main ingredient of Katsu is meat, while Furai is made mainly with seafood and vegetables. Typical Japanese Furai dishes include “Ebi Furai (海老フライ : deep-fried prawns)” and “Kaki Furai (カキフライ : deep-fried oysters)”.