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Shock! Portugal actually introduced tempura to Japan?

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

Did you know the famous Japanese tempura has a Portuguese origin? Legend has it that Portuguese brought the recipe of peixinhos da horta to Japan 500 years ago and then turned into the tempura.

What is Peixnho da Horta?

It literally translates into "little fish from the garden". Unlike what the name suggests, there's no fish in this dish. Peixinhos da horta is usually prepared with green beans wrapped in a wheatour based batter that are then deep fried. (Hooray! I love deep fry!)

The first time I tried Peixinhos da Horta, I fell in love. This dish became a must-have every time I go to local Portuguese restaurants. I have tried many different forms and versions, and I think I have found a winner. The best peixinhos da horta in Lisbon....drum from a low-key Portuguese restaurant in Principe Real neighborhood, called Tascardoso.

What does it taste like?

It tastes nothing like boring green beans. The batter is thin, nicely-flavored, and has a pleasant crunch. The beans are slightly soft but not too mushy nor too raw. It's deep fried but does not give you the heavy oily aftertaste.

Story time...

In the 16th century, three Portuguese sailors set foot on Japanese territory and this dish was introduced to Japan. The Portuguese left 100 years later, but they left one thing: green beans wrapped in batter and fried, commonly called peixinhos da horta. This preparation of green beans gained popularity in Japan and was eventually developed into tempura.

The origin and history of Peixinhos da Horta, like most gastronomic recipes, have multiple versions:

  • Version 1: It derived from its resemblance to small fried fish.

  • Version 2: It was an option for those who could not afford the price of fish.

  • Version 3: Catholics were not allowed to eat meat for a period time in history, so the dish came up.

Stay hungry Lisbon! See you next dinner!

The best peixinhos da horta in Lisbon - Tascardoso.

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