No more soggy tempura with palm oil blend

In Malaysia, Japanese restaurants use palm olein to fry tempura because it can withstand extreme deepfry heat and sets quickly on cooling. That is how you get a crispy tempura. Palm olein is also a favourite frying medium because its natural antioxidants — vitamin A and E — protects against off-flavours.

In Japan, many households still use softoils like soya, canola, sunflower and cottonseed oil. As a result these softoils leach out of the tempura. Other than an oily mess, the tempura smell and taste bad because softoils oxidise easily in extreme deepfry heat.

To overcome this 'greasy' and off-flavour problem, restaurant chefs fry tempura in solid fats like lard, tallow or palm olein. Since there is not enough supply of animal fats, restaurateurs in Japan are increasingly using palm olein to fry tempura.

At the Malaysia-Japan Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar in Tokyo yesterday, Nisshin OilliO introduced its latest healthy frying oil called "VegeFruit Oil" containing a 40 per cent palm oil blend that promises crispier tempura.

Many Japanese families pack lunch for children and by afternoon, tempura fried in pure softoils like soya, canola or cottonseed, tend to become greasy and soggy. Kaori Nakajima said her company's "VegeFruit Oil" solves that problem. "Now, consumers can enjoy longer-lasting crispy tempura packed with Vitamins A & E."

Later that day, Kaori's colleagues Dr Tan Boon Keng, Chong Mun Yee and Hideaki Maki invited MPOB scientist Dr Ooi Cheng Kiat and myself to a walking tour of tempura restaurants neighbouring the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo.

As we approached Tenya Tempura, Dr Tan smiled and indicated that the Nisshin OilliO group is supplying palm cooking oil to the restaurant chain.

Mmmm... crispy tempura!

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