Succulent shrimps coated in a thin batter and fried until lightly crisp, ebi tempura is delightful. It is one of the dishes that we used to order by default when eating at Japanese restaurants. We have moved on to more exotic Japanese dishes but, at home, we still make ebi tempura often.
Is it easy to make? Deceptively easy would be a more accurate description.
The shrimps have to be prepared correctly and lightly floured. The batter has to be thin and ice cold.
And, after the battered shrimp has been dropped into the hot oil, more batter has to be drizzled over it for more crunch and to get that lacy appearance.
It does take a lot of practice. In my family, it is my daughter, Alex (who went to culinary school), who is the most adept at making tempura. It was from her that I learned that the scrap tempura batter can be stored in the fridge and used for cooking other dishes including okonomiyaki.
But I’ll leave okonomiyaki for another day. Below, the recipe for ebi tempura.
Ebi (Shrimp) Tempura
For the tentsuyu sauce
- 1/4 cup dashi
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon grated daikon
- 3/4 kilogram shrimps about 12 pieces
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups cooking oil (you may need more depending on the size and shape of your pan)
For the batter
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
Make the dipping sauce
- Make the tentsuyu sauce by mixing together all the ingredients. Set aside.
Prepare the shrimps
- Place the shrimps on a plate in a single layer and sprinkle two tablespoons of flour over them. Toss lightly to cover the shrimps completely with a thin coating of flour.
- At this stage, start heating the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Make sure that the oil is at least three inches deep.
Make the batter
- Mix together the flour, starch and egg with half a cup of cold water.
- Add ice to the batter and mix until you have a rather thin but not watery batter. The consistency should be thinner than pancake batter.
Fry the shrimps
- Test the temperature of the oil. The ideal temperature is 350F. If you don’t have a thermometer, drizzle in a little batter. If it sinks, the oil is not hot enough. If it browns within a few seconds, the oil is too hot. Adjust and keep testing until you get the correct temperature.
- Dip each shrimp in the batter then drop into the hot oil. Fry no more than two or three pieces at a time.
- Dip your (clean) fingers in the batter then drizzle the batter directly over and around the shrimps.
- Fry the shrimps for one to two minutes or just until crisp, flipping halfway through for even cooking. Scoop out and move to a rack or strainer. Scoop out any excess batter in the oil and move to a plate before frying the next batch.
Serving immediately is crucial
- Serve your ebi (shrimp) tempura immediately with tentsuyu sauce for dipping.