Tendon vs Tempura : What is the Difference?
You may know that the cooked rice topped with Tempura in a bowl is called “Tendon (天丼)”, but can you tell how Tendon is different from Tempura, say, in sauce or in ingredients?
The Difference between Tendon and Tempura
For those who don’t know much about the difference between Tendon and Tempura, today let me explain it.
Tempura, together with Sushi, is a representative traditional dish in Japanese cuisine.
First regarding the cooking, ingredients are coated in batter made from wheat flour and hen’s eggs one by one, then deep-fried in sesame oil or other vegetable oil.
Tempura has a crispy covering on the outside, while the ingredient inside keeps its natural moisture. Typical ingredients for Tempura include seafood such as prawn and fish, vegetables like eggplant, asparagus and sweet potato, and mushrooms like Shiitake and Maitake.
Although Tempura can be enjoyed in various ways, we most commonly eat it dipping in “Tentsuyu (天つゆ)” sauce. Therefore, Tempura and its sauce Tentsuyu are served separately in a plate and in a small bowl respectively.
Tentsuyu is the dipping sauce for Tempura, which is made by once boiling a mixture of Dashi soup stock, Mirin sweet cooking rice wine, and soy sauce. Tentsuyu often comes with grated Daikon radish, and prior to dipping a piece of Tempura in it, we usually add the white lumpy stuff to the sauce.
Actually, Tendon, or Ten-Don is the abbreviation for Tempura Donburi, so Tendon is the Japanese rice bowl dish with pieces of Tempura.
In general, the cooking process of Tendon is that right after Tempura is cooked, the deep-fried ingredients are placed on top of steamed plain rice in a bowl, then dressed with a sweetened soy sauce.
The pieces of Tempura on the rice usually consist of several varieties. The main ingredients are prawn Tempura and other seafood Tempura such as squid and sand borer, which are often garnished with a few additional pieces of seasonal vegetable Tempura like Shishito green pepper, eggplant, pumpkin or lotus root.
Pieces of Tempura are placed on top of steamed plain rice in a bowl and dressed with a sweetened soy sauce. So you eat them at the same time.
The sauce for Tendon is made by evaporating alcohol from a mixture of Dashi soup stock, soy sauce, Mirin sweet cooking rice wine and sugar by boiling. It is stronger in taste than the Tentsuyu sauce for Tempura.