Japanese Shrimp Tempura and the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project
Remember how I recently posted about the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project (SSBP)? Well, I'm starting off my official partnership with their amazing non-profit organization in this post! If you missed the previous post, check it out here to find out more.
Now, I really try my best to live sustainably, and that includes the way my family eats. We try to use our purchasing power to promote responsibly caught, farmed, and grown food with heading to the farmer's market, fish market, or fruit stand. I believe that any difference we can make in conserving our resources is important and meaningful. Plus, it's a bonus to keep ourselves healthy by doing it. So, this blog will proudly display the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project badge on the sidebar to show support for the cause.
There are some other great fellow bloggers that are partnering with the SSBP, too. If you'd like to check them out, please follow the links:
As for the seafood itself, I like to test out recipes at home based on what I get when we go out to eat. While much of the seafood served here in Okinawa is in raw form, there's still a great deal that's actually fried. I guess every culture has their version of fried food, even those that live the longest in the world like the Okinawans! While I do like to keep things primarily on the healthy side, a little fried food in moderation will keep you happy. Hence, tempura! Now, I know this Japanese classic will be a happy addition to your seafood recipe collection since it's not the typical fish and chips or the usual fish fillet with lemon squeezed over the top.
You can get tempura many places here on the island especially as fast food or at an izakaya which is like a Japanese style pub. I feel like it's somewhat of a "weekend' food or even an appetizer, but you could pair it with a fresh salad and make it a meal. Here it's served with fresh daikon radish and a soy and dashi (stock) based sauce. The shrimp that I used for my homemade version was straight from the fish market on the dock. I purchased the freshest shrimp they had which was straightened for me in preparation for tempura. If you don't have the option of buying straightened shrimp, you can just devein them, cut a few slits in the bottom side and bend them flat.
Making the tempura is actually very easy. The batter takes no time at all to mix, and the sauce just needs to a little bit of time on the stove. The only nerve-wracking part is making sure that the hot oil for frying the tempura stays at the right temperature and doesn't splatter too much. If you need to take the pot off the heat a few times to keep the temperature level, then you should do that to prevent any issues with seriously hot oil. A candy thermometer is really key for making sure that you've got the right temperature for frying...Hot but not overly hot.
Anyway, don't be afraid to try this recipe even if you've never done any frying at home before. It's easy once you get the hang of it. Plus, who doesn't need a little comfort food every once in a while?
Japanese Shrimp Tempura
For the sauce.
3/4 cup dashi or chicken broth
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tsp sugar
For the tempura.
10 large shrimp (peeled, deveined, and straightened)
1 Tbsp corn starch
Vegetable Oil for frying
1 cup ice water
1 cold egg
1 cup all purpose flour, cold
couple dashes salt
couple dashes pepper
In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce. Bring to a boil. Then, simmer over low heat until all of the sugar has melted and the sauce is smooth. Set aside.
To make the tempura batter, combine the egg with the ice water and whisk well. In a separate bowl mix the flour with the dashes of salt and pepper. Add the egg mixture to the flour and mix just until combined, even if there are still lumps.
Rinse and pat dry the shrimp to ensure that most of the water is removed. Put the cornstarch on a plate, and coat the shrimp in the cornstarch. Set aside.
In a deep pot, heat about 1-2 inches of vegetable oil to 170-180 C (350 F) on a candy thermometer. Dip the shrimp in the tempura batter until fully coated except for the tail. Transfer them about 2 or 3 at a time to the frying pot to make sure not to overcrowd them in the liquid. Give them several minutes to brown before flipping them to the other side. Once golden brown and somewhat crispy, transfer them to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat the process for the remaining shrimp until they are all cooked.
If the shrimp are not quite browned, place them on an oven-safe sheet under the oven broiler for about 3 minutes at 500 F. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve with peeled and grated daikon radish and the tempura sauce. Enjoy!
If you'd like to learn more about Sustainable Seafood, please go to the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project website.