Shrimp Tempura

We ‘heart’ Asian cuisine in our household. I giggle a little bit inside as I type “cuisine.” You see, my two-year old daughter has a slight obsession with the book character, Fancy Nancy. She uses the word cuisine in one of her books. Last week, we got a new Fancy Nancy book called Pajama Day. Fancy Nancy has a dilemma in that she can’t decide which pajamas to wear to school for Pajama Day. After hearing me read the word dilemma over and over (we cannot read a book just once!) my daughter had it stuck in her head. At bed time, she wore a new purple nightgown and told me she had a purple dilemma. She seemed to think the word meant pajamas. She came out of her room and asked her dad to tuck her in. While he was saying goodnight, she told him that she had a dilemma. He told her to sleep on it and see how she felt in the morning, then came out, flabbergasted, that our toddler had a dilemma. It was a cute moment, I guess you had to be there. Now, off to Asian cuisine. I obviously enjoy the taste of fried food, but I really hate making it at home. I have a hard time filling a pot full of many quarts of oil. I try to scrimp and use as little as possible but it just never works the way it should. It also smells up my house and freaks out my dogs. They are somehow really frightened of the vent fan above our stove. They cower until we turn it off.  This recipe came to me via the homepage of Cooks Illustrated. I love tempura and I think we made it once from scratch several years ago. This recipe makes a large amount of batter so I would guess it would be alright to cut it in half. I could have scrounged up more things to fry if I had the time but we stuck to shrimp and a couple of zucchini. A funny side note: we don’t drink much hard alcohol and so in order to come up with the full amount of vodka the recipe requires, I had to empty out three partial bottles of really old vodka, some being lime or citrus flavored. The batter turned out just fine and didn’t taste like it had a hint of lime or citrus.

Shrimp Tempura


3 quarts vegetable oil

1 1/2pounds colossal shrimp, peeled and deveined (8 to 12 per pound)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 large egg

1 cup vodka

1 cup seltzer water

Kosher salt

1 recipe Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce


Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. In large, heavy Dutch oven fitted with clip-on candy thermometer, heat oil over high heat to 385 degrees, 18 to 22 minutes.

While oil heats, make 2 shallow cuts about ¼ inch deep and 1 inch apart on underside of each shrimp.

Whisk flour and cornstarch together in large bowl. Whisk egg and vodka together in second large bowl. Whisk seltzer water into egg mixture.

When oil reaches 385 degrees, pour liquid mixture into bowl with flour mixture and whisk gently until just combined (it is OK if small lumps remain). Submerge half of shrimp in batter. Using tongs, remove shrimp from batter 1 at a time, allowing excess batter to drip off, and carefully place in oil (temperature should now be at 400 degrees). Fry, stirring with chopstick or wooden skewer to prevent sticking, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Once paper towels absorb excess oil, place shrimp on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. 

Return oil to 400 degrees, about 4 minutes, and repeat with remaining shrimp.  

Serve immediately with Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce

Ginger-Soy dipping Sauce


1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp. powdered)

1 scallion, finely chopped

Whisk all ingredients together. Makes 3/4 C. of sauce.

Recipes from Cooks Illustrated

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