Vegan “Fish” Tempura

A vegan version of Japanese fish tempura using banana blossoms. Soft, flaky layers of the banana blossoms contrast with the light, ultra-crispy tempura batter.

Banana Blossoms have taken the Western vegan scene by storm these past few years, and it is no surprise. Many vegan chefs have used it to create British fish & chips, but today I bring you a Japanese tempura version.

As Fish Substitute

As it turns out, banana blossom hearts are nearly perfect for imitating fish. Once they are cooked and fried, they become soft & flaky very similar to fish. Although I prefer using canned banana blossoms for this recipe, here is a look at a fresh one:

It is important to note that banana blossoms are not a novel ingredient. They are used in many traditional East-Asian and Indian recipes such as curries, stews, and more.

Vegan “Fish” Tempura

3 from 5 votes
Recipe by George L. Course: LunchCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



A vegan version of Japanese fish tempura using banana blossoms. Its soft, flaky layers provide the perfect textural contrast with the light, ultra-crispy tempura batter.


  • Vegan “Fish”
  • 1 tin canned banana blossoms (or 1 fresh banana heart)

  • 2 cups salted kombu dashi, for boiling (skip boiling if using canned blossoms, just salt them instead)

  • 1 sheet nori/dried seaweed

  • lemon juice or water, for wetting nori/dried seaweed

  • Tempura Batter
  • 60 grams all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 120 grams ice-cold sparkling water


  • Clean Banana Blossoms. If using fresh banana blossoms: first peel away the outer layers (bracts) and florets. Once you arrive at the heart, cut it into quarters. Boil the quarters in well-salted kombu dashi (or plain water) until softened and cleaned, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside to let cool. If using canned banana blossoms: drain and rinse very well. Optionally, you can brine them in kombu dashi (be careful of the saltiness) for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
  • Prepare Vegan “Fish.” Slice the sheet of nori/seaweed into about 4 cm (1.5 inch) wide segments. Wet the nori/seaweed in some lemon juice or water, then drape it over the right-angled side of the blossoms quarters. It should stick well.
  • Heat Oil and Prepare Tempura Batter. In a wok or pot, heat up about 2 cups of oil until shimmering (there should be enough oil such that the banana blossoms can float around). In a bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and cornstarch. Place that bowl over an ice-bath, and drizzle in ice-cold sparkling water while whisking until a smooth batter forms. This batter should just barely coat the whisk & quickly run off when you lift the whisk up.
  • Fry the Banana Blossoms. Dip the banana blossoms in the tempura batter, then gently lower them into the frying oil. Drizzle on more tempura batter and move the blossoms around so the extra batter will stick to them. Let them fry for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown and crispy. Note: Don’t fry all the blossoms at once. Instead, fry in batches! Remember to fish out excess tempura crisps in the oil between each batch. Once they are fried, transfer them onto kitchen paper to drain excess oil. I like to serve with extra salt, vegan tentsuyu (tempura dipping sauce), or yuzu kosho (yuzu chili paste).


  • Notes on Tempura Batter. Make sure the batter is ice-cold — this slows gluten-formation and prevents the batter from absorbing too much oil. The tempura batter is also made after putting oil on the heat, so as to give the least time possible for gluten formation. You can also use the same batter for vegetables such as sweet potatoes, eggplants, lotus roots, pumpkins, mushrooms, etc.

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to see your recreations!

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