All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Satsumaimo no tenpura, shungiku to gobo, ebi no kakiage / deep-fried Japanese sweet potato & mixed tempura with garland chrysanthemum, burdock root and prawns

The sweetness of satsumaimo sweet potato is striking, making it a good companion to the distinctive flavor of shungiku garland chrysanthemum and deep flavor of gobo burdock root. Prawns added to kakiage also have a sweet note, linking everything together. In the recipe below, tempura pieces are served over rice, a dish known as tendon.

For tendon with 150 g steamed rice, 1 satsumaimo tempura & 1 kakiage mixed tempura, and 2 1/2 tbsp tentsuyu dipping sauce per serving:
510 calories; 11.3 g protein; 12.8 g fat; 82.6 g carbohydrate; 80.8 g net carbs; 252mg sodium (tentsuyu made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 442 mg with regular soy sauce); 51 mg cholesterol; 1.8 g fiber


(Serves 4-5)

5-6 cm satsumaimo Japanese sweet potato (124 g in photo)
Small handful shungiku garland chrysanthemum (65 g in photo)
10 cm gobo burdock root (52 g in photo)
Handful prawns (240 g in shell, 148 g shelled in photo)

For tempura batter
6 tbsp flour
2 tbsp katakuriko potato starch
1/4-1/3 egg (1/3 egg in photo)
120cc cold water

Oil for deep-frying (a mix of canola oil and sesame oil)

For tendon assembly
2 bowls of steamed rice (300 g)
5 tbsp tentsuyu tempura dipping sauce


Sasagaki diagonally slice gobo, and soak in cold water for 5 minutes.

Remove shungiku leaves, and cut leaves into 4-5 cm.
Thinly slice stems diagonally.
Cut satsumaimo into 1cm-thick rounds.

Drain gobo.


Shell and devein prawns.


Mix flour and potato starch well. 

Add egg to cold water, and mix well.

Pour into flour mixture.
Roughly mix (they do not need to be incorporated well.)


In a bowl, put shungiku and gobo, and dust with flour.

Roughly mix. 


Heat oil.

When oil is hot (fine bubbles vigorously come from tips of bamboo chopsticks immersed in oil; around160C/320F), put satsumaimo in tempura batter, coat all surfaces, quickly shake off excess batter, and quietly put in oil.

Satsumaimo will float to surface after a short time.
Cook for a few minutes, flip, and cook another few minutes.

Raise heat somewhat, and lift each piece, at first leaving one end in oil to draw it back into pot, then remove from oil while quickly shaking, and place piece on paper towel-lined plate. 

Adjust temperature of oil to about 180 C/360 F. (If oil is obviously moving in pot due to heat or it is smoking, the temperature is too high; turn off heat or remove pot from heat for a time.)


Place a large spoon or ladle in batter, put shungiku, gobo and prawns for 1 kakiage piece, quickly mix with batter on one side, tilt utensil to get rid of excess batter, and quietly slide into oil.

Kakiage will cook fast.
When outside of piece is done, flip.
Raise heat somewhat, and remove each piece as with satsumaimo.  


Serve steamed rice in each bowl.
Place desired number of pieces, and pour hot tentsuyu over.

  • Make sure to keep tempura batter cold until use in order to ensure light results.
  • Sesame oil gives a toasty aroma and taste. I use a mixture of 7-8 parts canola oil and 2-3 parts sesame oil for most tempura.
  • For sasagaki gobo, holding gobo in one hand and shaving it into a cup of water works fine when the amount is small and relatively uneven thicker pieces are acceptable. Slicing it against a cutting board makes it easier to obtain skinnier, even-shaped slices and work with larger amounts.
  • Thick ingredients that take time to cook (such as satsumaimo above) are first cooked at lower temperature. Raise heat toward the end for crispy, light results.
  • Depending on amount of steamed rice, the calories in the above nutrition figures change: 460 calories with 120 g rice (shown in the above photos), and 560 calories with 180 g rice, for example.
  • If cholesterol is a concern, skipping prawns would reduce the figure above (51 mg) to 15 mg.

(Last updated: January 24, 2014)

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