Japan Meets Europe: Or, How Peixinhos da Horta Becomes Tempura

Japan Meets Europe: Or, How Peixinhos da Horta Becomes Tempura August 25, 2019



It was today, the 25th of August, in 1542, or perhaps it was 1543, a Chinese ship heading to Macau was caught up in a terrible storm and swept into Japanese waters. While docked for repairs a handful of the ship’s passengers became the first Europeans documented as having stepped foot on Japanese soil.

Portuguese traders and really at this distance they do deserve the title explorers Antonio Mota, Francisco Zeimoto, and Antonio Peixoto were designated “southern barbarians.” Southern. because the ship came from the south. Barbarians, because of their uncouth ways and general all around ugliness. (It should be noted another of itinerant trader/explorer, Fernao Mendes Pinto later alleged he’d been among the group. Although according to Wikipedia he was in Burma at the time…)

The Wikipedia article notes how the traders immediately went into business, infamously introducing hand held guns to the island.

Whether it was them, or subsequent traders visiting isn’t precisely clear. But, and this wasn’t mentioned in the article, out of these encounters the Japanese were also introduced to peixinhos da horta. In good time they would adapt this interesting treatment for green beans into tempura.

The gun thing would not turn out as well as the introduction of fried green beans.

Of course humans beings being human beings its always at best a mixed bag. Good, bad, and ugly all mixed up. But of the good, one of the really good things is how cuisines meet, and what comes of those encounters…

For a video about the original dish…

And for what. the Japanese did with it…

I will pass on offering a video on how to make hand guns…

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