Many Western-inspired dishes were born in Japan after the Meiji Restoration which ended its isolationist policy. Ebi furai, tonkatsu and omurice are among these dishes.
When I was just being introduced to Japanese food, I called every fried shrimp “tempura” not knowing that panko-coated fried shrimps and batter-coated fried shrimps were two distinct dishes. The first is ebi furai; the second is tempura.
Unlike tempura, ebi furai (literally, fried shrimp) is not coated in batter. Rather, you’ll need three things to coat the shrimps with: flour, beaten egg and panko.
Panko is Japanese-style breadcrumbs: flaky rather than grainy and, although more bulky in appearance, lighter in texture than Western-style breadcrumbs.
You take a cleaned shrimp, dredge it in flour, shake off the excess, dip it in beaten egg then roll it in panko.
Repeat until all the shrimps have been coated with the three ingredients.
Next comes the frying. Deep-frying. The panko coating will not acquire a uniform color and texture if the shrimps are not rolling in hot oil during cooking.
The shrimps don’t take long to cook. In fact, you don’t want to overcook them to the point where they’re all shriveled and rubbery. Scoop out the ebi furai, drain on a colander or a rack for a minute then serve.
Ebi Furai (Japanese Panko-coated Deep-fried Shrimp)
- Shell and devein the shrimps. Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- 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 two minutes. Scoop out and drain.
- Serve the ebi furai with tartar sauce (traditional), sweet chili sauce (not traditional but excellent) or tempura sauce (great choice as well).
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