Traditional Shrimp Tempura
When making tempura, the texture is as important as the flavor. Getting it right starts with the batter, a simple mixture of water, egg and flour. The methodology of stirring is vital; the combination of under-mixing and using cold water leaves lumps in the batter. That way the batter will actually expand during frying, creating a coating that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Shrimp Tempura with Tesryu Dipping Sauce
- 1 pound u-15 sized shrimp
- 6 cups canola oil
- 1 cup sesame oil (do not use toasted sesame oil, a brown oil highly flavored and not for frying)
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 eggs
- Ice water
Tentsuyu Dipping Sauce
- 3 tablespoons mirin, sweet cooking wine
- 2 cups dashi, fish stock
- 5 tablespoons usukuchi shoyu, light colored soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- Ginger, finely grated
- Daikon radish, finely grated
- 2 quarts water
- 5 six inch squares of dried kelp (kombu)
- 1 cup tightly packed katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes), also called hana katsuo
Make the Dipping Sauce
Bring the kombu and water to a boil over medium heat.
When it has just reached a boil, turn off the heat. Remove and reserve kombu. Add katsuoboshi to the water and let stand for 3 minutes. Strain and reserve.
In a medium pot, combine 2 cups of dashi, the mirin, light soy sauce, regular soy sauce and sugar. Bring to a boil.
Remove pot from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Just before ready to serve, garnish with 2 tablespoons grated daikon radish and 1 tablespoon grated ginger.
Prepare the Shrimp
Peel and devein shrimp, leaving the tail attached. Cut off tips of tails to avoid water splatter when frying.
Make 3 shallow ‘nicks’ with a sharp knife on the belly side of each shrimp to prevent curling during frying. Gently pound with side of cleaver to flatten. Reserve in the fridge while you prepare the batter and heat the oil for frying.
In a large wok or stock pot, heat canola and sesame oils to 360 degrees.
To make the batter, beat 1 egg in a large measuring vessel and add enough ice water to make 3/4 cup. Transfer this mixture to a work bowl and add 3/4 cup cake flour. Mix several times with a pair of chopsticks or fork, do not over stir. You want lumps!
Dust shrimp one at a time in the spare cake flour. Dip into the batter, keeping the tail clean. Shake off any excess batter.
Fry 5 or so pieces at a time until golden, crispy and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Make extra batter as needed with extra ingredients.
Serve with the dipping sauce.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.