Tempura is one of the best-known Japanese dishes. But for most of us, it’s a restaurant dish, not a homemade treat. You might be surprised to learn how easy it is to make shrimp tempura, sometimes called ebi tempura or ebi ten, at home.
Ready? Because this easy tempura recipe makes authentic Japanese tempura not only easy but fun!
Making authentic Japanese food at home
The thought of making Japanese recipes can be intimidating. Japanese cuisine is known for careful use of ingredients, crisp knife cuts and time-honored traditions. But tempura shrimp, also known as ebi ten, is a sophisticated but simple dish.
This authentic Japanese recipe comes from Nakano, a highly regarded maker of Japanese knives. It is from the company’s new cookbook, aptly entitled Japanese Cookbook.
What is tempura?
According to Nakano, the cooking technique employed to make tempura is known as hanaage, which translates to blooming flower. When tempura is fried in hot oil, the batter blooms like a flower. The imagery is not only poetic but inspiring for any home cook timid about making homemade tempura.
Foods used for tempura are coated in a special batter to produce this chemical reaction. Tempura cooking produces morsels that are crispy without being greasy, as it is with this crispy shrimp tempura recipe.
Some surprising tempura cooking history
Although today tempura is one of the most popular Japanese cooking techniques, tempura recipes didn’t originate with the Japanese. The tempura frying technique was developed by the Portuguese and was only adopted as an integral part of Japanese cookery in the 18th century.
How to make authentic tempura batter
The key to good tempura is the tempura batter recipe. To ensure a crunchy tempura, follow the instructions exactly as written to create this light, flour and egg yolk batter. (That’s right, a good tempura batter recipe doesn’t involve breadcrumbs.) And great shrimp tempura is among the best Japanese shrimp recipes.
You must keep the batter cold at all times but the most important step is to incorporate the flour slowly but do not over mix. You want a batter that is light and airy without excessive lumps. (It will be a little bit lumpy once all the flour is incorporated.) Once the batter is mixed, it should be used right away.
Use this tempura batter recipe for prawn tempura
You can use this batter recipe and technique for tempura prawns as well. Just remember not to crowd the pan when using these larger crustaceans.
Ultimately, if you follow these simple instructions to the letter and discover how to make shrimp tempura, you’ll have a plate of flakey, airy shrimp, sure to impress and delight whoever is lucky enough to share your table.
Additional uses for this crispy tempura shrimp batter
Once you’ve mastered this basic tempura batter recipe and perfected your frying technique, you can always experiment with using this batter to coat your favorite vegetables and proteins, such as carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes, bell pepper and even chicken.
Keep in mind that if you’re going to make a vegetarian-friendly tempura along with shrimp tempura that you should batter and cook the vegetables first or in a separate pan.
Tentsuyu: the tempura dipping sauce
This tempura recipe includes the instructions for making a traditional dipping sauce from dashi stock. Of course, this means you have to have dashi stock!
Dashi is a Japanese soup stock and, if you ask me, the secret ingredient that makes so many Japanese dishes a sensory pleasure. It is typically made from dried kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, dried bonito flake or dried sardines or some combination of these ingredients.
If you don’t know how to make your own dashi stock, you can purchase it at Asian markets. Or just order it from Amazon.com. You’re going to love the richness dashi brings to this flavorful dipping sauce. You may even find yourself inventing other uses for this craving-worthy tempura sauce.
Crispy Shrimp Tempura
- For the Tempura:
- 4 to 5 Tiger prawns with tail
- 1 egg yolk large
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cold water
- canola oil as needed
- For the dipping sauce:
- ¾ cup dashi stock
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. mirin
- 2- inch daikon radish grated
- For getting straight fried shrimp tempura rather than curved ones, make slits on the underside of the shrimp’s half-way through. Flip and make tiny cuts on the front belly also. Pat it dry with paper-towels. Keep aside.
- Start by placing all the ingredients needed to make the sauce in a medium-sized saucepan.
- Heat it over medium heat and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer.
- Continue simmering until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Off the heat and set it aside to cool.
- Now, heat oil in a wok over medium heat and allow it to heat. Tip: Make sure to maintain the same temperature and heat at all times.
- In the meantime, sift the flour. Mix the cold water and egg in a medium-sized bowl until whisked well. Remove the foam that appears at the top.
- Next, gradually stir in the flour to the egg mixture. Do not over mix and keep the batter cold at all times. It is ok to have few lumps since over mixing can cause problems. Furthermore, make the batter just before frying as the cold batter allows it to have the light texture when fried.
- Sprinkle potato starch over the shrimp.
- Now, dip the shrimp in the batter until coated well and shake off the excess.
- Finally, place them in the frying pan and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are golden brown. Tip: Make sure to not over-crowd while frying as it can make it soggy.
- Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate and remove the excess oil.
- Serve it hot with the dipping sauce.
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