Tempura is steam cooking.
Total: 30 minutes
Prep: 5 - 10 minutes
Set up: 10 minutes
Frying: 5 minutes
Like mastering the art of making great sushi, achieving perfection in tempura-making is no easy task. You may wonder, "Isn't it just frying shrimp?" While it might seem simple, as with many things in life, the simplest tasks can be the most challenging to master.
While your homemade tempura might not rival the creations of master tempura chefs in Tokyo's Michelin-starred restaurants, you can take some simple yet effective steps to ensure your shrimp tempura tastes delightful.
Contrary to common belief, tempura is more than merely a frying method with oil. It is, in fact, a form of steam cooking according to the master tempura chef, Fumio Kondo. When the hot oil cooks the tempura batter, it coats the ingredient. As the internal temperature of the ingredient rises, its moisture evaporates and transforms into steam, which becomes trapped inside the cooked tempura batter. Thus, the key lies in utilizing the heat within the tempura batter to continue cooking the ingredient even after it's removed from the oil. You should cook the tempura at about 80% in the frying oil, as the residual heat will finish the cooking process after removal from the oil.
This is the recipe I adapted from Mr. Kondo.
Pro Tips for the Perfect Tempura:
Tempura Batter: Begin by making "egg water" - pour water into a bowl first and then add the egg. This prevents undissolved egg white from forming. If making egg water seems too cumbersome, you can replace it with mayonnaise in the tempura batter.
Cold Water vs. Normal Water? Many recipes suggest using ice-cold water in the tempura batter. However, according to a Michelin-starred Japanese tempura chef, there is no need to use ice-cold water. "It will only make it difficult to fry because it will create more temperature difference between the batter and the oil."
Thawing Shrimp: It's better to avoid thawing them in plain water when using frozen shrimp, as they may lose their flavor. Instead, make a 1% saltwater solution (200g water, 2g salt) and thaw the shrimp.
6 - 8pcs Shrimp, (size 21/26)
100 g (3.3 oz.) Flour
300cc (1.5 cups) water
Rice Bran Oil (or Canola Oil)
Small sheet pans (or plate)
Tong or Long Wood Cooking Chopsticks
Preparing the Shrimp:
1. Remove the shell. Cut the backside of the shrimp to remove and discard the vein.
2. Score the inner part of the shrimp with a knife, cutting halfway into the meat.
3. Place the shrimp on the cutting board and press firmly with your fingers to detach the tendon. When you press the shrimp, it should make a breaking sound.
4. For a decorative touch, cut the end part of the tail at a 45-degree angle. This will make the fried shrimp tail look more appealing.
Making the Tempura Batter:
1. Prepare "egg water" by pouring 300cc (1.5 cups) of water into a small bowl, then add the egg.
2. Egg white is water-soluble, so when you place the egg in the water, the egg white will dissolve first, followed by the egg yolk. Beating the egg in a bowl first and then adding water prevents undissolved egg white from settling at the bottom of the bowl.
3. Strain 60g/2 oz. of flour into a separate bowl, then add 60g/2 oz. of egg water (egg water: flour = 1:1).
Frying the Shrimp:
1. In a frying pan, pour rice bran (or canola) oil and Sesame Oil to a depth of 3cm/1 ¼ inch. The recommended ratio of Rice Bran Oil to Sesame Oil is 3:1.
2. Heat the frying oil to 190C/375F. To check the temperature, drop some tempura batter into the oil. The oil is ready if the batter hits the bottom and rises to the surface immediately.
3. Place flour in a sheet pan. Coat the prepared shrimp with flour by placing them in the sheet pan and shaking off the excess flour.
4. Hold the tail and dip the shrimp into the tempura batter. Lift it, holding it for three to five seconds to remove excess batter.
5. Place the batter-coated shrimp into the hot oil and fry for one to two minutes until they turn light yellow. Remove the shrimp from the oil and let them sit on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
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