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


Tenkasu / agetama / tempura pearls

Little balls of tempura batter are an essential ingredient for many people when making wheat-based snacks such as okonomiyaki savory pancakes, takoyaki octopus balls and monjayaki half-cooked savory pancakes. They are also added to make other dishes rich and flavorful, in a similar way as cheese or butter is added in western cooking. While tempura "pearls" are inexpensive and widely available at grocery stores in Japan, it takes some effort to find them at a store outside Japan. But yes, they are easy to make. Using leftover batter after making tempura is one way. Below is a recipe to make tenkasu or agetama only. It makes enough to freeze for use over several months.

1 tbsp (4-5 g): 
12 calories; 0.2 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 1.8 g carbohydrate; 1.7 g net carbs; 2 mg sodium (with shrimp flakes;5-7 mg with sakura ebi); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber


(Yield about 900 cc or 200 g of tempura pearls)

100 g wheat flour
2 tsp katakuriko potato starch
1 tsp ebi fureeku shrimp flakes (or 1 tbsp sakura ebi dried shrimp, coarsely ground)
180-200 cc cold dashi
2 tsp rice vinegar
Oil for deep-frying (not in photo; a mixture of canola and sesame oil)

Heat oil.


Mix all dry ingredients (flour, potato starch, shrimp flakes) well.
Pour dashi and rice vinegar, and mix well.
(Consistency should be very loose like crepe batter.)


When oil is hot (a drop of batter submerges and immediately pops up to float on surface, or very fine bubbles come up from ends of bamboo chopsticks when dipped in oil), drizzle batter in oil.
Scoop enough batter with chopsticks, and let it slide down into oil as you circulate chopsticks above the pan.

Raise heat somewhat, and scoop floating tempura pearls with a wire strainer.

Leave them in oil for 5-10 seconds, remove  while shaking off excess oil, and empty on paper-towel lined plate or baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining batter.

  • Change paper towels as necessary to absorb excess oil from tempura pearls.
  • To ensure crunchiness, cool completely before refrigerating or freezing.
  • If you have a bowl with a tiny spout, you can directly (but slowly) pour the batter into oil from the bowl.
  • When you put batter in oil, watch out for hot oil spattering.
  • For deep-frying, canola oil alone also works. Mixing it with sesame oil is my preference, as it gives a toasty note.
  • Shrimp flakes or sakura ebi can be omitted, if not available.
  • Adding katakuriko potato starch helps to get crispy results. If not available, corn starch or tapioca starch should work fine.
  • If dashi is not available, use cold water. If you skip shrimp flakes and replace dashi with water, you might want to add a tiny amount of salt. 
  • Whole recipe above: 537 calories; 10.5 g protein; 17.0 g fat; 77.9 g carbohydrate; 75.1 g net carbs; 89 mg sodium (with shrimp flakes;200-280 mg with sakura ebi); 7 mg cholesterol; 2.8 g fiber

Recipes with tenkasu / agetama / tempura pearls

(Last updated: July 16, 2015)

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