What makes this dish different from tempura? Unlike tempura, ebi furai (literally, shrimp fry) is not coated in batter. Rather, you’ll need three things to coat the shrimps with: flour, beaten egg and panko.
Why flour, egg AND panko? You need the flour to make the egg stick to the shrimps. You need the egg to hold the panko in place and not float away in the oil during frying.
Shelled and deveined shrimps prepped for tempura or furai are available in some Japanese groceries. Well, in our corner of the world anyway. If you don’t have access to them, see the step-by-step guide for shelling and deveining shrimps.
How to clean, peel and devein shrimps and prawns
How shrimps and prawns should be deveined and prepped depends on how they are intended to be cooked. There is a simple way and there is a special way if you don’t want the shrimps or prawns to curl during cooking. Don’t throw away the shrimp heads and shells because you can make shrimp broth with them.
Once you have prepped the shrimps, press them between stacks of paper towels to remove surface moisture. Then, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Prep your assembly line. You’ll need three shallow bowls for the flour, egg and panko. Dredge each shrimp in flour, shake off the excess, dip in beaten egg then roll in panko.
Then, the frying begins. Don’t dump all the shrimps in the hot oil in one go. Fry them in batches so that they don’t touch one another. That’s the key to even browning. If the temperature of the oil is correct (350F is the standard), each batch should cook in about a minute. Remember that it’s a bad idea to overcook shrimps. Once the panko turns light brown, scoop out the shrimps.
Rest the fried shrimps on a rack while you cook the next batches. Don’t place them in a bowl where steam emanating from the hot shrimps will make the crispy surface soggy.
Ebi furai (Japanese shrimp fry)
- 24 whole shrimps - (large ones are best) shelled and deveined
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) - you may need more
- cooking oil - for deep frying
- Shell and devein the shrimps. Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and a bit of pepper.
- Place the flour, egg and panko in three separate shallow bowls. Beat the egg.
- Holding the shrimp by the tail, dredge each in flour; shake off the excess. Repeat with the rest of the shrimps.
- Dip the floured shrimps one by one in beaten egg.
- Roll the shrimps one by one in panko to coat every inch of the surface.
- Heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Cooking in batches of four to six, drop the breaded shrimps in the hot oil and cook until the coating is golden and crisp, about a minute per batch. Scoop out and rest the fried shrimps on a rack.
- Serve the ebi furai with tartar sauce (traditional), sweet chili sauce (not traditional but excellent) or tempura sauce (great choice as well).