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 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.
Besides being a standalone dish, Shrimp Tempura is also served over a rice bowl (Tendon) or noodle soup (Tempura Soba or Tempura Udon).
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, 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.
Other Tempura Recipes
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- 10 prawns (typically, black tiger prawns are used for shrimp tempura at home; more expensive Japanese tiger prawns are used at tempura specialty restaurants in Japan)
- potato starch or cornstarch (for dusting)
- 3 cups neutral-flavored oil (for deep-frying; or use a 10-to-1 ratio of neutral-flavored oil to sesame oil)
For the Tempura Batter (ratio of egg + water to flour is 1 to 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)
For the Tempura Sauce (Tentsuyu)
- ¾ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock) (or use ¾ cup water + 1 tsp dashi powder)
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp mirin
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 inches daikon radish (grated and lightly squeezed to drain)
To Make the Tempura Dipping Sauce (Tentsuyu)
- Gather the tempura sauce ingredients.
- Combine the 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 the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To Prepare the Shrimp
- Follow these instructions on how to straighten the shrimp, so it looks gorgeous. Pat the shrimp dry to completely remove any surface moisture.
To Fry the Shrimp Tempura
- In a wok or a medium-sized pot, heat 1½ inches (3 cm) of oil to 340-350ºF (170-180ºC) and maintain the oil temperature at all times. You can check the temperature with your chopsticks or with a thermometer. Dip the tips of your chopsticks in the oil. When you see small bubbles form around the chopsticks, the oil is ready for deep-frying. Please read this post for more deep-frying tips.
- While the oil is heating up, prepare the tempura batter. First, gather the batter ingredients.
- Next, sift the flour into a large bowl.
- Add the cold egg and the 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 in the batter. Keep the batter cold at all times (store it in the refrigerator, if needed). Make the batter right before deep-frying to avoid activating the wheat gluten in the flour.
- Dust the potato starch (or cornstarch) over the shrimp. This will help the tempura batter adhere to the shrimp.
- Now, it's time to coat 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, let the excess drip off for a second or two, and very gently place it into the hot oil. Continue battering and adding one piece at a time.
- Deep-fry the shrimp until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Do not overcrowd the wok or pot; remember, your ingredients should take up no more than about half of the oil surface area at any one time. If you add too much food at once, the temperature of the oil will drop quickly and your food will end up absorbing too much oil. 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.
- Grate the daikon and squeeze the liquid out.
- Serve the 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 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.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on July 6, 2011. The images and the recipe have been updated in November 2013.