The Difference between Tempura, Katsu, and Furai

“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)”.

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 wrote about the difference between Tempura, Karaage, and Kakiage that many people seem to want to know before, this time let me explain how Tempura, Katsu, and Furai differ from one another.

The Difference between Tempura and Katsu 

Tempura (天ぷら)Tempura

As you know, Tempura is the Agemono where one piece of ingredient is 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 iced water.

And 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 from dashi stock, soy sauce, and mirin sweet cooking rice wine.

Katsu (カツ)

Tonkatsu (豚カツ)Ton-katsu

Katsu is the Japanese word for cutlet, and its main ingredient is usually meat such as beef, chicken, or pork.

The basic making method of this Agemono is that a slice of meat is coated with wheat flour, dipped in beaten egg, breaded with panko breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried in plenty of lard or vegetable oil.

Unlike Tempura, Katsu is characterized by its crispy brown deep-fried panko covering and usually dressed with Tonkatsu sauce, a thick, sweet Japanese-style Worcester sauce, eaten with the Karashi yellow mustard.

By the way, when we Japanese just say “I want to eat Katsu” in daily life, in many cases, the Katsu refers to “Tonkatsu (豚カツ: pork cutlet)“, the most common cutlet variety in Japan.

The Difference between Katsu and Furai 

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.

Katsu is usually made with a slice of pork, beef, or chicken, while the main ingredient of Furai is seafood or vegetables.

And representative Japanese Furai dishes include “Ebi Furai (海老フライ: Prawn Fry)”, “Kaki Furai (カキフライ: Oyster Fry)”, and “Onion Ring Furai (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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