For Your Japanese Food Craving: How To Cook Shrimp Tempura

Prepare the shrimp, the shrimp tempura batter, and the sauce with these tips!

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Japanese food looks and sounds like it's easy to make at home but the truth is, making Japanese food takes more skill than having the ingredients.

The shrimp tempura recipe is one of those deceptively easy-to-cook recipes but just like many Japanese recipes, skill or technique is where many of us go wrong. While the recipe itself may look like it's easy, preparing the shrimp, the batter, and even how it's fried are all important aspects that need to be carefully done for the recipe to be successful. 

Don't be intimidated because it can be done! 

We have tips that will help you not only the shrimp, but also the shrimp batter, and even the sauce that you want to dip your tempura into. Here are tips on how to cook shrimp tempura that will make you proud: 

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1 Prepare the shrimp right. 

There's a correct way of preparing the shrimp even before you dip it into the batter. Here's how to do it right: 

  1. 1 Peel large shrimp or suahe, keeping the tail part on. 
  2. 2 Using a small but sharp knife, make one shallow incision running along the back of the shrimp. Open this incision and remove and discard the vein located just under the flesh of the shrimp.  
  3. 3 Turn the shrimp over on your cutting board and lay it down with the incision pressing against the board.  
  4. 4 Using your knife again, make several incisions across the belly of the shrimp. (This is actually what will prevent the shrimp from curling when fried.) 
  5. 5 Turn the shrimp back over on its belly and press the shrimp down to straighten the shrimp (See below). 
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The shrimp is ready to be seasoned and battered. Repeat this process with all the shrimps that will be made into tempura.  

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2 Make the batter. 

The secret to the batter is that it's a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch. The flour provides structure while the cornstarch gives it a big crunch. Plus, the tempura flour mix also contains a chemical leavening agent: baking soda. This reacts to an acidic ingredient as well as the heat, which is why carbonated soda water (or beer!) is a popular ingredient in tempura batter. The bubbles not only make the batter lighter but soda water is slightly acidic, providing the perfect ingredient for the baking soda to react with and produce even more bubbles.  

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To make a simple batter for tempura, whisk together a combination of flour and cornstarch or use tempura flour mix and your preferred liquid into a bowl to make a thin batter that just would just coat the shrimp. Holding on to the tail, lightly dredge the shrimp in cornstarch to help the batter adhere then dunk in the batter.    

3 Fry the shrimp. 

Immediately slip the battered shrimp into the hot oil, tail end last. Cook until the batter is golden brown and shrimp easily floats to the surface. Remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel for a few seconds to drain before transfering onto a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.  

Photo by Riell Santos
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4 Make the sauce. 

The sauce for the tempura is a delicious mix of mirin, dashi, soy sauce, and grated daikon radish. The radish is commonly placed in the sauce bowl and the tempura sauce is poured over it. 

To make an easy tempura sauce, use this ratio: 

1 tablespoon mirin + 1 tablespoon soy sauce + 3 tablespoons dashi + 1 teaspoon grated daikon radish

Don't have mirin or dashi? Try this super simple tempura sauce: simmer 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 1/4 cups water until the sugar dissolves. Serve either of these sauces with your freshly cooked shrimp tempura. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.

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