Crispy and delicious homemade Shrimp Tempura! The secret to making a light, crisp coating that doesn’t absorb oil when fried is in the batter and 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 ingredients for tempura besides vegetables. And among seafood, shrimp is definitely the most popular one.
Extra Crumbs around Shrimp Tempura
When you order Shrimp Tempura at Japanese restaurants, it’s usually coated with crispy tempura crumbs.
The cooking method is called Hanaage (花揚げ); hana means flower and age means deep-frying. Why flower? When tempura batter is added 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.
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 if there are 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.
- Just half of the oil surface should be covered with ingredients.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 10 prawn (Typically, Black Tiger Prawn is used for shrimp tempura at home; more expensive Japanese Tiger Prawns are used at tempura specialized restaurants in Japan)
- potato starch/cornstarch (for dusting)
- 3 cups neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc) (for deep frying; vegetable oil : sesame oil = 10 : 1)
Tempura Batter: (egg + water : flour = 1 : 1 by volume)
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell) (cold)
- ¾ cup iced water (¾ cup + 4 tsp to be precise)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
To Make Tempura Sauce
- Gather tempura sauce ingredients.
- Combine dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat and let it simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
To Prepare Shrimp
- To prepare shrimp, follow the instruction on how to straighten the shrimp.
To Make Shrimp Tempura
- In a wok or a medium-size pot, heat 1 ½" (3 cm) of the oil to 340-350ºF (170-180ºC) and maintain the oil temperature at all times. You can check the temperature with chopsticks or with a thermometer. When you see small bubbles around chopsticks, it’s ready for deep frying. If you want to read more about deep frying tips, please read this post.
- Gather tempura batter ingredients.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl.
- Add the egg into very cold water in the measuring cup.
- 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 over mix; it's okay to leave some lumps in the batter. Keep the batter cold all the time. Make batter right before deep frying to avoid activation of wheat gluten.
- Dust potato starch (or cornstarch) over the shrimp. This will help the shrimp adhere to the tempura batter.
- Coat the shrimp in the batter.
- Deep fry the shrimp until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Do not crowd the wok (pot) because the oil temperature will drop quickly. Don't overcook the shrimp; otherwise, the texture will be tough and dry. Transfer the Shrimp Tempura to a wire rack or a plate lined with a paper towel to drain excess oil. Between batches, skim the crumbs in the oil, which will burn and turn the oil darker if left in the wok (pot).
- Grate the daikon and squeeze the liquid out.
- Serve shrimp tempura with warm tempura dipping sauce and grated daikon on the side. Put some grated daikon in the dipping sauce and dip the 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 and in the freezer for a month. Reheat in the oven or oven toaster until crisp on the outside and heated through on the inside.
Other Tempura Recipes
Editor’s Note: Photos and recipe updated in November 2013.