Sardine Tempura with Curry Powder

Adding curry powder turns tempura into a spicy dish. The sardines are crispy and light—even without using a lot of oil! Makes a great appetizer.

Sardine Tempura with Curry Powder
Photographed by Hideo Sawai

Recipe by
Yoshiharu Doi







Calorie count is per serving.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 4 sardines (butterfly filleted; approx. 100 g per fish)
  • [Batter]

    • 100 ml egg water

      *1 egg mixed with cold water.

    • 50 g flour (sifted)
    • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • Shredded cabbage, as needed
  • Lemon wedges, as needed
  • Worcestershire sauce, as needed
  • Oil for deep-frying, as needed
  • Flour, as needed



Prepare the [Batter]. Beat the egg and mix with cold water. Add the flour and curry powder, stir a couple of times, then lightly whisk together.


The [Batter] doesn't need to be completely smooth. In order to make tempura that's crispy and light, you need to go easy on the mixing to avoid activating the gluten in the flour. The amount of water you add to the egg will determine how thick the batter is. A relatively thick batter is recommended for sardines to be served as a side dish.


Pour oil to a depth of 1 cm in a 26 cm frying pan and place over heat. Test the oil with chopsticks. The oil is ready when tiny bubbles start to form around the tips.


With deep-frying, it's important to heat the oil to the right temperature. The trick to making tempura at home with a limited amount of oil is to dip the food into the oil when it starts to heat up. Then, adjust the heat as you go.


Pat the sardines dry with paper towels. Dredge in flour and dust off the excess.


Holding the sardines by the tail, coat thoroughly in [Batter] and lower into the oil.


Raise the temperature as soon as you add the sardines. If the oil starts to splatter, lower the heat. Continue adjusting the heat until the sardines are crispy and golden brown.


Sardines are an oily fish. But when deep-fried properly, you'll find that they make for light and tasty tempura.


Plate and garnish with shredded cabbage and lemon wedges. Serve with Worcestershire sauce.