Does your shrimp curl up almost immediately after hitting the hot oil? How do restaurants manage to keep the shrimp so straight? Here’s a step-by-step guide on How to Make Shrimp Tempura.
Shrimp Tempura is one of my all-time favorite Japanese appetizers. I love the sweet shrimp meat wrapped in all that crunchy batter. Shrimp Tempura is often served as an appetizer but can also be paired with dishes such as Zaru Soba.
The first few times I had attempted to make Shrimp Tempura at home ended up in disappointment. The batter always seemed too soggy and I know this seems trivial, but I was also disappointed that my shrimp kept curling up! I wanted them to be straight, just like in Japanese restaurants.
I finally learned that I needed to cut and prepare the shrimp a certain way in order to keep them straight during the cooking process. I’m sharing these secrets below!
Shrimp Tempura Batter
I have found that by using Panko breadcrumbs instead of the traditional wet batter, the Shrimp Tempura turns out less soggy and more flavorful. They also stay crispy a little longer. Technically, this would make this recipe an Ebi Fry rather than the traditional Shrimp Tempura.
For this method, dredge the shrimp in a light coating of flour, dip them in egg, then coat them in breadcrumbs. Super easy!
Keep in mind that this specific tempura recipe with the Panko breadcrumbs is only for shrimp and not for vegetables. For veggies, you’ll need to use the traditional wet tempura batter.
How to Prepare Shrimp for Shrimp Tempura
Shrimp will naturally curl up as they cook so how do you keep them straight? The secret is all in the preparation.
This recipe calls for 10 large shrimp. Since shrimp is the star ingredient here, you will want to use extra large or jumbo shrimp.
First, remove the shell from the shrimp but keep the tails on. Not only does it look better; it also makes it easy to handle when breading and frying the shrimp.
Place the shrimp on a cutting board, belly side up.
Make 4 – 5 vertical incisions along the belly.
After you’ve made the incisions, flip the shrimp over so it’s belly side down. Use your fingertips to squeeze the shrimp on the sides while pressing down.
Start from the tail and work your way up to the top. Be careful not to squeeze too hard (or it will split in two), but it should be firm enough where you’ll hear a slight “snap”.
It’s not going to look perfect. You’ll see the huge incisions at the bottom but that’s okay – the batter will cover it all up!
Make sure the shrimp are as dry as possible. Pat them with a paper towel; especially the tails. Water tends to get trapped in there, which causes the hot oil to spatter when deep-frying.
How to Cook Shrimp Tempura
Side note: Before cooking the tempura, I recommend preparing the Tempura sauce first (recipe below) so that you can allow the sauce to cool down while you cook the tempura.
My favorite cooking method for tempura is to deep-fry them. You can use a wok, pan, or a deep-fryer. Add enough oil to deep-fry the shrimp, then heat the oil to medium-high heat (about 350 – 375 degrees F).
Use an oil that can withstand high heat. Vegetable oil, palm oil or canola oil are good options.
Pour 1 cup of all-purpose flour on to a plate. Crack 2 eggs into a shallow dish and beat lightly. Pour 1 1/2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs onto another plate. Set the flour, eggs and Panko breadcrumbs next to each other.
Dredge the shrimp in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip them in the egg, then cover in Panko bread crumbs. Flour…..egg….breadcrumbs. That’s it!
Slowly add the shrimp to the hot oil, then allow them to cook until they turn a beautiful golden brown color. This should take only about a minute so keep a close eye on them! Don’t overcrowd the wok or pan; fry them in small batches.
As you remove the cooked shrimp from the hot oil, place them on paper towels to absorb some of the oil. You can also use oil-absorbing cooking paper as shown in the photo below.
Serve immediately with Tempura Sauce (recipe below).
Shrimp Tempura Sauce
Give the ingredients a good stir, then bring it to a boil. Allow it to simmer for about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Let the sauce cool down.
Just before serving, add about 1 tablespoon of chopped scallions and half a tablespoon of freshly grated daikon radish to the sauce.
Baking Shrimp Tempura in the Oven
A healthier alternative to cooking Shrimp Tempura is to bake them in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
After coating the shrimp in the flour, egg and Panko breadcrumbs, place the shrimp on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until the crumbs are golden.
- Make sure the shrimp is as dry as possible before deep-frying to prevent oil splatters; especially the tail. Water gets trapped in there easily, so dry it thoroughly with a paper towel.
- To determine if the oil is hot enough for deep-frying, dip a wooden or bamboo chopstick (you know; the ones that you get with your take-out) into the oil. It should start bubbling immediately when it touches the oil.
- Don’t overcrowd your wok/pan/deep-fryer. Fry only 3 – 4 pieces of shrimp at a time.
- Use a spider skimmer to easily remove the cooked shrimp from the oil.
- 10 shrimp extra large or jumbo, peeled and deveined, tail on
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- cooking oil for deep-frying
- Tempura Sauce: combine water, dashi stock granules, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, then allow the sauce to simmer for 2 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Prepare the shrimp: Make 4 – 5 vertical incisions across the belly of the shrimp. Flip the shrimp over and using your fingertips, squeeze the sides of the shrimp while pressing down. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
- Heat up cooking oil in a wok or pan over medium-high heat.
- Dredge the shrimp in flour, dip in egg, then coat in Panko breadcrumbs.
- Deep-fry until golden brown (this should only take a minute…keep a close eye on them!)
- Serve Shrimp Tempura with dipping sauce, chopped scallions and grated daikon radish on the side.
Here are more Asian Shrimp recipes to try!