Chicken tempura rolls are the pinnacle of delicious Japanese cuisine. Fried chicken originally started out as an eastern food, so it’s no wonder that it goes so well in these tasty little rolls. If you are looking to impress your family and friends with your cooking, then homemade sushi is perfect to achieve this.
This post has included an easy-to-follow recipe, with some tips and tricks to perfecting your rolls, and some substitutes for those harder-to-find or expensive ingredients!
Table of Contents
- What is chicken tempura?
- What equipment do I need to have for Chicken Tempura Rolls?
- Chicken Tempura Rolls Recipe
- Sushi making tips
- Chicken Tempura Roll: FAQs
- Chicken Tempura Roll – not so difficult after all!
What is chicken tempura?
Chicken tempura (or Toriten) is a type of tempura that has a truly unique texture and flavor. The chicken provides a tender texture that sets it apart from other types of tempura. The style of batter is so good thanks to the mixture of wheat flour with specific seasonings
Tempura is nowadays so popular that you’ll see some sort of tempura food on most menus.
Chicken tempura is definitely a Japanese favorite, and can be enjoyed in so many different ways. It is also a great method of preparing leftover chicken found in the fridge
Chicken tempura is not only amazing in these sushi rolls, but it’s also really good when paired with a huge variety of different foods. These include fried rice, noodles, and garlic mashed potatoes, to name but a few!
Is chicken tempura healthy?
While they should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, these rolls can be pretty healthy. Chicken tempura itself has about 226 calories. But if you were to use an air fryer to cook the chicken, this would make this number lessen. It also does not contain any raw fish and is packed with protein.
Some other sushi rolls like Alaska rolls (which have raw meat in them) are not recommended for pregnant women or children. There is a small chance of getting sick from parasites, food poisoning, or mercury ingestion, which is sometimes associated with consuming raw fish.
What equipment do I need to have for Chicken Tempura Rolls?
If you love sushi and want to start making it, there will be a small initial expense of buying some equipment. This may put you off making your own sushi, but once you buy these few small bits, then you will be set long-term! Lots of the tools you’ll have already, so it shouldn’t be too expensive.
What You Need
- Bamboo mat (aka makisu) – for rolling the sushi
- 2 squeeze bottles
- Plastic wrap
- Large pan
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- Large bowls
As I’ve previously said, you’ll have most of these items, and may just need to buy the sushi mat and squeeze bottles, which you can buy here:
Chicken Tempura Rolls Recipe
For this recipe, I’ve included two methods of cooking the chicken.
If you are looking for an easy way to this recipe, and have a brand of frozen chicken you like, then you can just use this as it will make for a really easy recipe.
If you would prefer to take the time to make your own authentic tempura chicken and truly impress your guests, I have also included the method for this.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ pound of pre-cut chicken tenders
- 2/3 cup thawed orange juice concentrate
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger root
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1½ sesame oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted, and sliced almonds
- 3 green onions (green portion only)
- 1 small sweet red pepper, cut into short thin strips
- 1 large peeled, sectioned orange, cut into thin strips
How to make Chicken Tempura Rolls
Making sushi rice
- Place your sushi rice in a large bowl and wash the rice to remove starch on the exterior (giving your rice a fluffy texture). Transfer to a large saucepan and add three cups of water. Let the rice stand for 30 minutes.
- Cover the saucepan and bring the rice to a boil over high heat, and reduce heat to low, allowing the rice to cook for roughly 15 to 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, leaving the lid on and letting the rice rest for 10 minutes.
- While the rice is resting, using a small bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Next, transfer the sushi rice to a shallow bowl and pour a third of the vinegar sugar mix into the rice. Set the remainder of the vinegar mix aside for use during assembly.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice using a slicing motion until the rice has cooled. Cover the rice with a damp cloth to ensure the rice stays moist.
Cooking the Chicken
- Following the package directions for the chicken tenders. I love to use the air fryer for this because it’s faster and easier than an oven and creates a crispy interior while holding a moist interior.
- Once cooked, allow to cool and cut into long, thin strips.
- In a large bowl, combine the orange juice concentrate, soy sauce, oil, red pepper flakes, and minced ginger.
- Set aside half the mixture, leaving the other half in the big bowl. Toss the thin chicken strips in the orange mixture to coat.
- 1 pound of pre-cut chicken tenders
- 1 cup of flour – plain flour is perfect
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 cup of cold water
- 1.5 tsp of rice vinegar
- 1.5 tsp of baking soda
- 3/4 cups of cornstarch
- Cooking oil – any oil with a high smoking point such as canola oil is good
- Start off with sprinkling the chicken tenders with a bit of cornstarch. This will help to make very crispy tempura chicken.
- In your large bowl, form the tempura batter by combining the flour, water, and salt.
- In a second bowl, mix your rice vinegar and baking soda to create a foamy mixture. Combine both mixtures and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
- Next, using a large pan, fill the pan with your oil until it is about 2 inches deep. Heat the oil until very hot.
- Using chopsticks, take each chicken tender and coat in the vinegar and flour mixture until fully coated. Next, transfer the chicken from the mix into the oil. (Top tip: It is good to ‘swirl’ the chicken a little bit in the oil. This will form a seal on each tender, which prevents the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pan while frying.)
- Fry for approximately 5 minutes in relatively small batches. Transfer each batch to a sheet of kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil. Next, you’ll want to slice the chicken into thin strips.
Note: If you have an air fryer, you could also just cook the chicken there instead of deep frying. This method is much healthier and makes less of a mess than deep-frying. I would recommend spraying some oil into the basket before adding the chicken, as this will prevent the chicken from sticking to the interior.
Assembling the Chicken Tempura Roll
- Cover your sushi mat with plastic wrap (to ease the clean-up)
- Next, wet your hands using the reserved vinegar mixture and press the rice into a thin even layer on the sushi mat
- Then, arrange a small portion of the chicken lengthways across the sushi mat rectangle, followed by the green onion, red pepper, and orange strips approximately 1-½ inches from the bottom edge of the rectangle.
- Holding the edge of the bamboo mat with your thumbs and fingers across the filling, start to roll the sushi mat rectangle away from you, ensuring that none of the fillings fall out by applying pressure to squeeze the roll into a tight log.
- Keep rolling and once finished, remove the sushi mat, and set the log on a chopping board. Using your sharp knife, cut the log into approximately 1-inch pieces, and serve with the reserved sauce, or any sauce of your choosing.
Sushi making tips
Sushi vinegar substitute
If you struggle to find sushi vinegar, you can always just use a mixture of white wine vinegar, tsp of sugar, and a pinch of salt.
For the best results, I recommend using high-quality short-grain rice as this will give you that sticky texture that holds the rice together
Rice sticking to your hands
If you try this recipe out, you might find that the rice sticks to your hands too, which can be annoying. But fear not!
Before rolling out the rice, I like to make a homemade mixture of ¼ cup of water, mixed with 2 tsp of rice vinegar, and dip your hands in this.
This mixture is called tezu and is a great method of preventing the rice from sticking to your hands.
How to prevent your sushi rolls from falling apart
Make sure to keep a tight pull on the sushi mat when rolling, as this will help to prevent the sushi from falling apart.
Also, once you have finished rolling, I recommend covering the roll with the bamboo mat again and giving the roll a gentle squeeze to help keep the form.
Chicken Tempura Roll: FAQs
What sauces go well with chicken tempura rolls?
The following is a list of sauces and toppings that pair really well with chicken tempura rolls:
Spicy sriracha mayo
Bang bang sauce
Tobiko sauce or masago sauce
White or black sesame seeds
Can I put in any other fillings?
In his recipe, the filling options are absolutely endless. You may find other vegetables in the fridge that you want to use up, such as avocado, shredded carrot, cucumber, spinach, shrimp, or whatever else you have lying around!
Is raw fish bad?
Saying that this doesn’t mean that raw fish is bad for everyone! When correctly prepared, eating raw fish is perfectly safe, not forgetting to mention how delicious it is too! People have been eating raw fish for centuries and have not gotten sick. It is also very healthy too, and has a higher nutritional value than cooked fish, as the cooking process can cause some nutrients to seep out.
What other foods can you use this tempura cooking method for?
This easy cooking method is hugely versatile and can be used for many other foods in the exact same way, which will result in other amazing tasting food.
You can use this method with shrimp, broccoli florets, onion rings, spring rolls, mushrooms, lotus root, spinach leaves, sweet potato, pumpkin, zucchini, or even white fish chunks.
What is the easiest way of frying the chicken?
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way of making delicious fried chicken, then you should really consider looking into purchasing an air fryer.
Air fryers are an amazing appliance and can be used for so many things. Air fryers are a super healthy alternative to deep-frying, as they require little to no oil! An air fryer not only works as a deep-fryer alternative, but also as a microwave, grill, or oven.
If you make a lot of food from frozen (such as fish fingers or fries) or make sausages, bacon roast veg, or grilled sandwiches, then an air fryer would be a great investment. You can even use an air fryer to roast a whole chicken!
I have a separate blog post outlining some of the benefits of using an air fryer, so check it out!
Chicken Tempura Roll – not so difficult after all!
So hopefully you’ll agree that these rolls are actually not as daunting as them seem! I was reluctant to make them before I first did. Once I actually took the plunge I realized just how easy they are to make!
Once you’ve made your first sushi rolls, there is so much room for adventure in exploring other types of sushi you can make. Or even exploring other foods you can cook using this tempura method.
For me, there is truly nothing better than freshly prepared tempura. Having an air fryer makes the process so much easier too, and much less of a mess. I can easily fulfill any sushi cravings, without taking up too much time!
Let me know in the comments how they go for you!