Make my crispy and delicious Shrimp Tempura recipe at home! The secret to making a light, crisp coating that doesn’t absorb oil is in the batter and the deep-frying technique.
Tempura is one of the most popular and well-known Japanese dishes that is widely enjoyed around the world. At your local Japanese restaurants, you probably see Shrimp Tempura (海老の天ぷら) and Vegetable Tempura, but the Japanese make tempura with various fresh ingredients.
What is the Shrimp Tempura?
In Japan, we call Shrimp Tempura Ebi no Tempura (海老の天ぷら) or Ebi Ten (えび天). Ebi means shrimp and ten comes from tempura.
Seafood is often used as an ingredient for tempura besides vegetables. And among seafood, shrimp is definitely the most popular one.
Hanaage Technique: Extra Crumbs around Shrimp Tempura
When you order Shrimp Tempura at Japanese restaurants, crispy crumbs usually coat the tempura.
In Japanese, we call this cooking method Hanaage (花揚げ); hana means flower and age means deep-frying. Why flower? When the chef adds the tempura batter to the hot oil, it blooms like a flower. Check this video below.
Did you see the chef dip his hand in the oil? Crazy, isn’t it?
However, if you go to tempura specialized restaurants in Japan, the tempura chefs will not serve Tempura with excess batter because they want you to enjoy the flavor of the ingredient, not the excess batter.
Typically, you will see Hanaage-style Shrimp Tempura with extra crispy batter on noodle soup dishes or tempura rice bowl dishes.
You Can Serve Shrimp Tempura with Vegetable Tempura.
5 Tips To Make Shrimp Tempura
The majority of Japanese home cooks don’t make the Hanaage-style Tempura as it’s time-consuming and difficult to make. It’s a lot easier to simply coat the shrimp with batter and deep fry.
Here are some helpful tips on making tempura:
- Keep all the ingredients (flour, water, egg) cold.
- Never overmix the batter, and it’s okay to leave some flour lumps in the batter.
- Start deep-frying as soon as you make the tempura batter.
- Keep the oil temperature steady at all times.
- Cover just half of the oil surface with ingredients.
Other Tempura Recipes
For the Dipping Sauce (Tentsuyu)
For the Tempura
For the Batter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour) (chilled; weigh your flour or use the “fluff and sprinkle“ method and level it off)
- 1 large egg (50 g each w/o shell) (chilled)
- 200 ml iced water (¾ cup + 4 tsp)
- 2 inches daikon radish (grated and lightly squeezed of liquid)
- Before You Start: Gather all the ingredients. I strongly encourage you to weigh your flour in metric using a kitchen scale. Click on the “Metric“ button at the top of the recipe to convert the ingredient measurements to metric. If you‘re using a cup measurement, please follow the “fluff and sprinkle“ method: Fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle the flour into your measuring cup, and level it off. Otherwise, you may scoop more flour than you need.
To Make the Dipping Sauce (Tentsuyu)
- Gather the ingredients for the tempura dipping sauce.
- Combine ¾ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock), 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp mirin, and 2 tsp sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside. Tip: For a quick dashi, use ¾ cup (180 ml) water + 1 tsp dashi powder.
To Prepare the Shrimp
- Peel 10 prawns, leaving on the tail and last shell segment (closest to the tail). Straighten the shrimp so it looks gorgeous; learn how in my post on how to prepare shrimp. Pat dry with paper towels to completely remove any surface moisture. Any excess moisture will keep the tempura from getting crispy and make it soggy. Tip: We typically use black tiger prawns to make shrimp tempura at home. Tempura specialty restaurants in Japan use the more-expensive Japanese tiger prawns.
To Prepare the Oil
- In a wok or a medium-sized pot, add 3 cups neutral oil or enough for 1½ inches (3 cm) of oil in the pot. Heat the oil to 340–350ºF (170–180ºC) and check the temperature using a thermometer. To check with wooden chopsticks, dip them in the oil; when small bubbles form around the tips, the oil is ready. Be sure to maintain the oil temperature at all times. Tip: For enhanced aroma and taste, I like to add 1 part sesame oil for every 10 parts neutral oil.
To Make the Batter
- While the oil is heating up, prepare the tempura batter. We‘ll use a 1-to-1 ratio (by volume) of flour to egg + water. First, gather the batter ingredients.
- Next, sift 1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour) into a large bowl.
- Add 1 large egg (50 g each w/o shell) and 200 ml iced water to a measuring cup or bowl.
- Whisk the egg mixture vigorously and discard the foam on the surface.
- Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour. Mix the batter, but do not overmix; it‘s okay to leave some lumps. Keep the batter cold at all times. I store mine in the refrigerator until ready to use. Make the batter right before deep-frying to avoid activating the wheat gluten in the flour.
- Dust the shrimp lightly with potato starch or cornstarch. The starch acts as a glue that helps the batter adhere to the shrimp.
- Now, dip the shrimp in the batter and add them to the hot oil. Add a few shrimp pieces to the batter bowl. Pick up one piece by the tail, dip in the batter, let the excess drip off for 1–2 seconds, and very gently place in the hot oil. Continue to dip and add one piece at a time. Do not crowd the pot. Tip: When you deep-fry, do not overcrowd the pot because the oil temperature will drop quickly and your food will absorb too much oil. Your ingredients should take up no more than about half of the oil surface area at any one time. For more helpful hints, read my post on how to deep-fry food.
- Deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Don‘t overcook the shrimp; otherwise, the texture will be tough and dry. Transfer the shrimp to a wire rack or a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Between batches, skim and discard the crumbs in the oil, which will burn and turn the oil darker if left in the pot.
- Peel and grate 2 inches daikon radish (I love this grater) and gently squeeze out some of the liquid.
- Prepare 3–4 Tbsp warm tentsuyu in each individual dipping bowl with 1 Tbsp grated daikon per serving on the side. Add the grated daikon to the dipping sauce, then dip the Shrimp Tempura in the sauce to enjoy.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for a month. Reheat in the oven or oven toaster until crisp on the outside and heated through on the inside. If you have leftover dipping sauce, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 1–2 weeks.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on July 6, 2011. The images and the recipe have been updated in November 2013.