Alex is nearing completion of her culinary course and, as the culminating activity (a buffet!) draws nearer, preparations are underway. She was chosen to be sous chef for cold dishes which include Japanese rice rolls. Tempura won’t be in the menu but she decided to practice making ebi (shrimp) tempura at home anyway.
It turns out that I’ve been making my tempura incorrectly in the past. Worse, I didn’t realize that preparing the shrimps was so much more labor intensive. It’s more than flouring and frying. There’s even a trick on how to keep the shrimps straight rather than curved.
In the following photos, every step for making kickass shrimp tempura is illustrated.
Start by pulling off the heads and shells of the shrimps. Leave the tails on though.
Removing the vein is done a little differently.
Take a toothpick and insert at the back of the shrimp. Not too deep. Pierce just deep enough to reach the digestive tract of the animal.
Carefully pull out the black thread that runs through the entire back of the shrimp. That is the digestive system and you don’t want to eat that.
There is one part of the tail that is harder than the rest. It’s the one attached directly to the back of the shrimp. Cut that off and discard.
Cut off and discard the tips of the remaining portions of the shrimp’s tail.
Press the tail with the knife to remove the liquid inside. By doing so, you practically bring down to zero the chances of oil spatter during frying.
Hold the shrimp back side down and make shallow horizontal slashes along the inner portion of the body (the inside of the curve). Depending on the size of the shrimp, the number of slashes should be five to seven.
Turn the shrimp over, back side up. Using your fingertips, press the shrimp down from tip to tip. You will feel some popping as the shrimp flattens.
You now have a straight rather than a curved shrimp.
Do the same with the other shrimps.
Lightly coat the shrimps with flour.
Make a better by mixing together flour, starch and cold water. Add ice to the batter to make it even colder.
Dip the shrimp in the batter then drop in hot oil.
Using your fingertips, drizzle some of the batter directly over and around the shrimp.
Fry the shrimp until crisp and scoop out.
That is how Alex makes her shrimp tempura. It’s so good that I have retired my old recipe. If the old comments below don’t coincide with the recipe, it’s because they referred to the old rather than this new one.
Ebi (Shrimp) Tempura
For the batter
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
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
Clean the shrimps
Pull off the heads and shells of the shrimps; leave the tails on.
Cut off the hard portion of the tail (the one that connects directly to the back of the shrimp).
Cut off the ends of the remaining portions of the tail and press to expel water.
With a toothpick, pick and pull off the digestive system of the shrimp (the black thread that runs along its back).
Repeat to clean the rest of the shrimps.
Flatten the shrimps
Make shallow horizontal cuts along the inside portion of the shrimp (the inside of the curve)--five to seven depending on how large the shrimps are.
Pressing the shrimp down on the work surface with the slashed side down, press the shrimp from tip to tip to flatten (you will feel the shrimp pop when you do this).
Repeat to flatten the rest of the shrimps.
Flour 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.
Serve the ebi (shrimp) tempura
Mix together all the ingredients for the tentsuyu sauce.
Serve your ebi (shrimp) tempura immediately with tentsuyu sauce for dipping.