Saturday, April 24, 2010

Overcoming a Phobia - Shrimp Tempura

When it comes to deep frying, Laurent is the expert in our house. I got him a huge, deep frying pan for Christmas, and it’s been getting a lot of mileage already.

I remember the very first time we made Veal Milanese together – or as Laurent, whose family hails from Rome, calls it: Fettine Panate. You’ve all probably had this ubiquitous Italian classic: pounded veal scallops, coated in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, then fried and served piping hot with lots of lemon juice.

However, Laurent and I soon found that we disagreed on the cooking method. I was used to cooking these scallops the way my mother had taught me, in just a thin coat of butter. Since this was early in our relationship, and Laurent was still “courting” me and trying to get on my good side, he let me do it my way, but mentioned that he usually cooked the scallops in oil. I promised we would do it his way next time.

So when next time came along, I watched as he prepared the scallops in much the same way as I had. Then he took out the frying pan and the canola oil. I was expecting him to merely pour a couple of spoonfuls of oil… so when he started to let the oil glug out of the bottle and fill the pan halfway, I was shocked. In fact, according to him, I looked absolutely horrified.

See, I had never deep fried anything before. And I was at a time in my life where I was suffering from “fat-phobia,” and tended to shy away from anything too greasy. So really, this was terrifying for me.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten past this problem since then. And while we certainly don’t deep fry things unnecessarily or frequently, I gladly let Laurent practice his skill when he feels like it. And we now always deep fry Veal Milanese – sorry, Fettine Panate – because I have to admit, it tastes better that way.

Actually, today’s recipe has nothing to do with veal. What I really wanted to post about was tempura, but it seems I got side-tracked. Sorry. :-)

As far as deep frying goes, tempura is one of the lighter dishes. At least, the batter feels crispier, and less greasy than the breadcrumb variety. You can make it with vegetables, but we stuck with the prawn variety. And they were certainly yummy!

Thanks for bearing with me! Enjoy the recipe!

Shrimp Tempura

Serves 2

1 egg yolk
240 ml (1 cup) chilled soda water
140g (5 oz, 1 cup) all-purpose flour (or easy blending flour)
15-20 large prawns, deveined and shelled, with the tail still on
Vegetable oil, for frying
Soy sauce for dipping

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolk and the soda water. Gradually whisk in the flour, and stir until just combined.

Pat the prawns dry with a paper towel. Put them in the batter, turning them over to coat the completely. Reserve.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, until it is hot enough to react when you dip a utensil in it, or toss a test-piece of bread, or a prawn.

Working in batches, gently remove each prawn from the bowl, shaking off any excess batter, and fry them until they are crisp and golden. Place the cooked prawns on paper towels, and press to absorb the excess fat.

Serve immediately, with the dipping sauce and a side of vegetables.


  1. Well, I for one enjoyed your side track on frying! I love fried but almost never do. Nothing is better.
    Love the little shrimp and tempura.

  2. Wow, what a story! I'm still having a fear of deep frying in a pan. Since Chris has his own deep fryer, I do it most of the time at his place.

    You can't believe how many Japanese restaurant that I visited and served "oily" tempura. Your tempuras don't look greasy. I will try it out!

  3. Oh the Shrimp Tempura looks amazing. I am not an experienced 'fryer' either. Love the story...can just imagine this horrified look you gave Laurent.

  4. Loved the tempura recipe, but the fact is I loved everything about the post today. I, for years, refused to deep-fry, but I've found by measuring amounts of oil before and after frying that if the oil is kept at the correct temperature very little of it is absorbed by food. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. Hello Valerie!

    What a story! Your end result looks very attractive & so tasty too!