Yummy! Who doesn’t like Shrimp Tempura? I found an authentic Japanese recipe on the Internet and I replaced the existing Food Nirvana recipes for Shrimp Tempura with this recipe. It looked just right, and much more authentic! I am now reporting back with results.
The recipe I provided in June 2014 had the typical errors provided to home chefs regarding the batter. I have changed the batter recipe below to cut the amount of flour in half. Thick batters are simply wrong. A thin batter is the only way to go if you want success. That having been said, the authentic recipe for the Tempura sauce was absolute dynamite. Of course, I ordered dried smoked bonita fish from Japan and also got the right kind of dried seaweed to make the sauce known as Dashi. All in all the recipe failed regarding oil temperature and it was missing a double frying process. Nasty inferior Internet recipes really piss me off! Of course, that is why I fix them so you can get stellar results. You can now trust the recipe ingredients and directions provided below.
This recipe makes 20 pieces of Shrimp Tempura. You can scale up this recipe easily to feed more than three people. When making shrimp tempura it is common practice to make vegetable tempura for the meal. Some typical vegetables are listed later. You simply prepare them in size to be about two bites. The combination of the shrimp and the vegetables makes a complete meal.
I show some different dipping sauces at the end of this recipe that were not provided with what I found on the Internet. I expect they are good but the Tempura sauce recipe given below is truly excellent.
20 large (Use extra large or jumbo size shrimp as the stuff sold as large in supermarkets really isn't at all large) shrimp
Corn starch for coating the shrimp before dipping it into the tempura batter
Oil for deep frying (vegetable oil : sesame oil = 10 : 1) [ I suggest using soybean oil and homemade toasted sesame oil or no sesame oil at all. I actually used only fresh peanut oil and it was great.]
2" of daikon radish, grated, with the liquid squeezed out (You will find daikon radishes in Asian markets and sometimes in better domestic supermarket produce areas.)
Tempura Batter (use the ratio, egg water:flour=2:1)
1 cup of egg water (1 cold large egg broken into a chilled one cup measuring cup + ice water to make a total volume of one cup)
1/2 cup of chilled all purpose flour (you can vary this to suit yourself, but a 1:1 ratio resulted in a batter that was way too thick.)
Tempura Sauce (See the recipes for making Dashi and Mirin below)
¾ cup of Dashi
3 Tbsp. of soy sauce
2 Tbsp. of Mirin
2 tsp. of sugar
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.
To make the tempura sauce, 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 the sauce from the heat and pour it into a small serving dish and put the dish into the 180 degrees F warming oven.
To prepare the shrimp, shell them (except for the last part of the tail) and rinse them, slit the back about 1/8th of an inch deep and remove the vein, rinse again, then cut shallow crosswise slits about 1/8th of an inch deep every 1/2 inch on the "inside" curve of each shrimp. Then flatten them out on a cutting board with the inside curve on the underside. Leave them moist but not wet. The idea is to have the cornstarch used later for coating to lightly coat the shrimp, not form caked cornstarch on the surface.
Grate the daikon and squeeze the liquid out. Put the grated daikon into a small cold serving dish and set it aside.
Heat 1½" deep cooking oil to 375 degrees F using a deep fryer, or use a dutch oven on the stovetop and a candy/frying thermometer. Allow the oil temperature to decrease during frying to 350 degrees F but not lower. Then remove the fired shrimp and bring the temperature back to 375 degrees F before starting the next batch.
Note: I watched a video of a chef doing the deep frying and it was most instructive. The batter the chef used was "thin." That infers that the batter recipe shown originally with this recipe would result in a batter that is too thick, that needs to be diluted with a small amount of additional ice water. It sure was too thick, even with some dilution with ice water. During frying there were lots of small pieces of batter in the oil due to using the thinner batter and the chef used a screen type of spatula to collect the small pieces and put them onto the pieces of frying battered shrimp early in the frying (to make sure they will stick together). That made the final pieces of shrimp very attractive. No small pieces of fried batter are allowed to remain in the oil between batches as they will darken and be an unwelcome mess. In other words be sure to remove everything from the oil between batches.
To make the tempura batter, sift the flour into a one quart cold stainless steel bowl.
Break the egg into the cold measuring cup and add the ice water to bring the total volume to one cup. Then pour the mixture into a pre-chilled one quart mixing bowl.
Whisk the egg mixture vigorously and discard (spoon off) the foam that forms on the surface.
Slowly pour the egg mixture into the chilled flour and mix the batter with a serving spoon but do not over mix. It is okay to leave a few lumps in batter. Keep the batter cold all the time. This can be done by placing the batter bowl into ice cubes or crushed ice in a larger bowl.
Coat each piece of shrimp with cornstarch. I prefer having a bowl of cornstarch and coating each shrimp individually and completely, then shaking off excess cornstarch. Put each piece of coated shrimp onto a paper towel.
Coat each piece of shrimp individually with the batter, letting excess batter drip off, then put it into the hot oil, doing no more than five shrimp per batch.
Deep fry each shrimp until it is pale gold in color. Turn over after two minutes to assure even frying on both sides. The total frying time during the first frying will be about five minutes. Do not crowd the fryer with too many shrimp; leave at least half of the oil surface empty. This means fry no more than five jumbo shrimp at a time. That is particularly important if you use a thinner batter and want to collect the small pieces of frying batter early in the frying and put them onto the pieces of frying shrimp.
Use a slotted spoon and transfer each piece of the fried shrimp tempura to a wire rack or to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain excess oil. I like to keep finished batches in a 180 degrees F warming oven so they don't get cold during the frying of later batches. If you do that when frying three or more batches of shrimp remember to put a paper towel between each batch layer so the oil that drains from the shrimp does not soak into the shrimp made in an earlier batch. Alternatively, you can put a wire rack on a cookie sheet in the oven and skip using the paper towels as you will have plenty of surface area on the wire rack for multiple batches of fried shrimp.
Between batches, remove and discard the leftover batter crumbs from the oil.
Now repeat the frying process again using batches, this time of once fried shrimp. The result, provided you remove the shrimp from the hot oil after about two to three minutes, will be vastly superior to a single frying process re. coating crispness.
Serve the hot shrimp tempura with the warm tempura sauce in a small serving dish and with the grated daikon on the side on the plate holding the shrimp.
Make the batter right before deep frying to avoid activation of wheat gluten.
If you put in too many shrimp at the same time the oil temperature will drop quickly. You do not want that to happen as it will result in an oil soaked final product instead of having a crisp batter coating. Maintain the right temperature for frying at all times, ergo wait between batches until the oil temperature has risen to 375 degrees F. Also, if you are not using a deep fryer then cut the heat back temporarily when the oil reaches the right temperature so that it doesn't get too hot. You can increase the heat to maintain the right temperature once you start to put the batch of shrimp into the oil. You can also turn off the heat temporarily if necessary to lower the temperature to 375 degrees F.
For vegetable tempura, you can use vegetables such as sweet potato, kabocha squash, lotus root, king oyster mushrooms, etc. I typically use tiny carrots or carrot slices(slightly pre-cooked), raw green beans, small pieces of raw broccoli, sweet green, red or yellow pepper chunks, sliced summer squash, zucchini squash, etc. The cornstarch and batter coating and frying processes are the same as those used with the shrimp. Do not overcook as the vegetables should be barely cooked to retain their physical character and taste, i.e., not be totally limp.
To make Dashi:
Ichiban Dashi is known as First Sea Stock, which means the first use of the ingredients used to make batches of Dashi. Sometimes the ingredients are re-used to make a second batch that is weaker in flavor.
Buy the ingredients online at AsianFoodGrocer.com or Amazon or from a local Asian market. You can also buy packets of dried Dashi and use it with boiling water to make the broth. I ordered the dried smoked bonita fish filet through Amazon and it was shipped directly from Japan. It was definitely worth the wait and the cost. Wow! What a great authentic Tempura sauce! Do, however, note that the quantities provided in the dashi recipe below are far more than what you will need for the shrimp quantities listed above. I suggest cutting the Dashi recipe in half. Ditto the Mirin recipe.
Makes 4 cups of stock
4 cups of water
16 to 20 square inches of kombu** (water soluble seaweed)
1/2 cup of loosely packed katsuobushi (bonito tuna, cleaned, fileted, cooked, smoked, dried and shaved)
Place the water and the kombu in a pot and let the kombu soak for about 15 minutes. Place the pot over medium heat. Right before the water starts to boil (watch for bubbles starting to break around the edge of the pot), remove the pot from the heat and scatter the katsuobushi over the surface of the water.
After 3 or 4 minutes (the katsuobushi will have sunk to the bottom of the pot by this point), strain the stock through a strainer lined with a tightly woven cotton cloth, cheesecloth, or a coffee-filter.
You can refrigerate the stock in a tightly covered container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
** If you want to weigh out the kombu, somewhere between 0.45-ounces or 0.6 ounces (13 to 18 grams) is okay.
Alternate Dashi Recipe: (this appears to be more concentrated in the use of the dried bonito flakes and also re. the seaweed on a weight basis. I did not use this recipe.)
6 cups of cold water
1 oz of kombu (dried kelp), about 20 square inches
2 (5-gram) packages of katsuo bushi (dried bonito flakes), about 1 cup
Bring the cold water and kombu just to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and remove the kombu. Sprinkle the katsuo bushi over liquid; let the mixture stand 3 minutes and, if necessary, stir to make the katsuo bushi sink. Pour through a cheesecloth-lined sieve or a coffee filter into a bowl.
Why make it at home? The answer is that most commercial products bear little resemblance to the highest quality Mirin made only in Japan and they are expensive when you consider the volume of Mirin used in different recipes for Japanese food.
Yield: generous 1/2 cup
5 tablespoons of sugar, such as organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of sake (rice wine)
1 1/2 teaspoons of pure cane syrup, such as Steen’s® (optional ... I did not use any cane syrup)
Combine the ingredients in a very small saucepan, such as butter warmer/melter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then stir to ensure the sugar has dissolved.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool. Taste and add the cane syrup for depth, if you like.
Alternate Shrimp Tempura Dipping Sauces
The dipping sauces shown below each simply have the ingredients prepared as indicated and then combined and mixed to make the final sauce.
Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce (mix, bring to a boil, mix to dissolve the sugar, then remove it from the heat and serve it warm)
1/4 cup of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of rice wine
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
1 scallion, finely chopped
Teppayaki Mustard Dipping Sauce (served cold)
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of lime juice
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons of prepared horseradish
Chile Aioli Dipping Sauce (served cold)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of Thai-style chili sauce
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger