Kabocha Tempura

Japanese Kabocha Squash Tempura
Kabocha Tempura. Photo Credit: © Judy Ung
  • 19 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 4 mins
  • Yield: 2 to 4 servings (serves 2-4)
Ratings (9)

Kabocha Tempura is an appetizer of very thinly sliced kabocha squash that is dipped in a light batter and deep fried to crisp perfection. It is typically served with salt or a dipping sauce. 

Kabocha Tempura is often included in the medley of assorted vegetable and shrimp tempura that is commonly found on the menus of Japanese restaurants. However, in the fall when kabocha squash is in season, kabocha tempura on its own makes for a great appetizer.

What You'll Need

  • 8-10 kabocha (thinly, sliced)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 3/4 cup flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 cup water (ice cold)
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil (or vegetable oil for frying)
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: tempura dipping sauce (or use bottled mentsuyu, generic  term for multipurpose noodle sauce, for convenience.)

How to Make It

  1. If you are planning to use a dipping sauce for the kabocha tempura, rather than salt, make the sauce first. Or, use bottled mentsuyu either straight or if it's concentrated, dilute with water as directed on the bottle.
  2. Wash the kabocha. The easiest way to cut a whole kabocha squash is to slice off the bottom and top first, to create a flat surface on the bottom for stability, and easy entry points to cut into the kabocha. Remove seeds and fibrous strands from the inner cavity and discard.
  1. Leaving the skin intact, carefully slice 8 to 10 thin pieces of kabocha. Each piece should be about 1/4 - inch thick. The thinner the pumpkin, the faster it will cook. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine egg, flour, potato starch and ice cold water. The key to crispy tempura is to ensure that the water is very cold. HINT: Try mixing in the water just before the kabocha slices are dipped in the batter, and the oil is already prepped for frying.
  3. Heat oil in a small frying pan. 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Dip a slice of the kabocha squash into the tempura batter and then place it in the hot oil. Allow each slice to cook about 2 minutes until tender. It's best not to crowd the pot of oil by limiting the number of kabocha slices to 3 to 4 pieces.
  5. Serve immediately with salt or tempura dipping sauce.

Additional Information:

The tempura batter for this recipe is a mixture of potato starch and all purpose flour. The addition of potato starch lightens the batter over other tempura batter recipes that are 100% flour. The key to crisp tempura, however, is the use of ice cold water over room temperature water. I will often add ice cubes to the water and strain them before measuring the water into the tempura batter.

Make sure that the oil for frying is on medium high heat at a steady 375 degree Fahrenheit temperature for optimal frying conditions.