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Panfish and Vegetable Tempura Recipe

Small crappies, bluegills, or perch – any panfish will do for this tasty tempura recipe!

Panfish and Vegetable Tempura Recipe

In this recipe, panfish and seasonal veggies are battered and deep-fried until light and crunchy. Then the panfish and vegetable tempura is served with a fresh ginger dipping sauce. (Photo courtesy of Chef Lucia Watson)

Print Recipe

Small crappies and, particularly, bluegills are my favorite tempura fish, although many people prefer perch. Any panfish will do – as will finger-sized strips cut from the fillets of larger fish. Serve this Panfish Tempura Recipe with a dipping sauce like the ginger one I offer here.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

Cook's Tip: The key to tempura is that the ingredients must be fresh and cold. Cut the vegetables into even-sized pieces and adjust cooking time for each. For example, a sweet potato must cook longer than a green pepper. Be sure the oil is at a constant minimum of 360 degrees and not much hotter. The batter should be lumpy and never mixed too well.


  • 12 small panfish fillets, patted dry
  • Assorted fresh, seasonal vegetables of your choice cut into large pieces – green & red bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, red onions, snow peas, sweet potatoes


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups ice-cold beer (or water)
  • Extra flour for dipping, mixed with salt & pepper

Ginger Dipping Sauce:

  • 5 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 5 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon scallion, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime, lemon, or orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • Pinch of red chili flakes

Panfish Tempura Recipe
Panfish and Vegetable Tempura Recipe


  1. Set up the ingredients in the frying area in assembly-line fashion: (1) prepared fish and vegetables, (2) flour for dipping, (3) batter, (4) fryer with oil, and (5) pan lined with paper towels to drain finished tempura.
  2. To make the Batter: Beat the eggs slightly, then add ice-cold beer (or water) and mix lightly. Add the flour and beat a few times with a fork or until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be lumpy.
  3. Heat the oil to 360 degrees °F.
  4. Dip the fish and vegetables in flour, shake off the excess, and dip them in the batter. Slide the pieces into hot oil and fry until golden – about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve at once with dipping sauce.
  5. To make the Ginger Dipping Sauce: Combine ingredients and stir well.
  6. Serve Panfish and Vegetable Tempura with dipping sauce.

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