Ebi Tempura Sushi
What is Ebi Tempura (Prawns)?
Ebi tempura is the fried preparation variant of ebi in Japanese cuisine. It is a fried shrimp, served warm and crispy, golden on the outside, juicy and tasty on the inside, either alone or with rice. However, the aromas of the dough baked in sesame oil only harmonize well with soured sushi rice to a limited extent. The preparation as hand-pressed sushi (nigiri-zushi) is more a western way of preparation than it is found in Japan.
Ebi Tempura as Ingredient for Sushi or Sashimi
Tempura is a very popular method of preparing various dishes in Japan. During the Edo period (1603-1868), tempura dishes were considered to be the food of the common people, the dishes were mostly bought and eaten at a food stall (yatai, 屋台). As a result, most recipes today speak of tempura in Edo style (edomae, 江戸前). During the Meji era (1868-1912), driven by a growing middle class, the spread of tempura specialty restaurants as we know them today began. The term tempura, probably originated from the Portuguese cuisine, adopted in the 16th century from Jesuits of Portugal missioning in Japan.
Ebi tempura is prepared by first powdering ebi with flour and soaking it in a liquid dough. The dough is then fried with hot oil (320-350 °F). Especially when prepared as nigiri sushi, the usual garnish of grated radish (daikon'oroshi, 大根おろし) or coarse salt is not recommended. A preferred alternative is to brush the cooked ebi tempura with a refined soy or seasoning sauce (tentsuyu, 天つゆ). Nowadays ebi tempura is also very popular as rolled sushi (maki-zushi, 巻き寿司). Especially in the Western-Japanese fusion cuisine, a currently very popular style outside Japan, ebi tempura is widely used, combined in countless variations and is part of many modern inside-out sushi (ura-maki) creations.
For ebi tempura, smaller Japanese tiger prawns (saimaki-ebi, 才巻き海老) with a length of up to 10 cm are preferred. Especially outside Japan or in cheaper restaurants, young giant tiger prawns (ushi-ebi, ウシエビ) or pacific white shrimps (banamei-ebi, バナメイエビ) are regularly used as substitutes.
Further information on the author can be found in the section on image credits.
References & Further Reading
- [Hosking, 2015]: Richard Hosking. A Dictionary of Japanese Food: Ingredients & Culture. Tuttle Publishing, North Clarendon. 2015.
- [Ishige, 2001]: Ishige Naomichi. The History and Culture of Japanese Food. Kegan Paul Limited. 2001.
- [Kondo, 2017]: Kondō Fumio (近藤文夫). The owner of Tempura Kondo gently teaches the basics of tempura (「てんぷら近藤」主人のやさしく教える天ぷらのきほん). Sekai Bunka, Tokyo (世界文化社, 東京都). 2017.
- [Kondō, 2013]: 近藤文夫. てんぷら近藤」の技と味、 柴田書店 (engl. The skill and taste of "Tempura Kondo", Shibata Shoten). Shibata Bookstore, Tokyo (柴田書店、東京都). 2013.
- [Ono & Salat, 2013]: Tadashi Ono, Harris Salat. Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond. Ten Speed Press, Danvers. 2013.
- [Richie, 1985]: Donald Richie. A taste of Japan: customs and etiquette, food fact and fable, what the people eat. Kodansha International, New York. 1985.
Mikkabie. 日本語: エビ天の握り. Wikimedia Commons. License: Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Changes made: image quality, brightness, contrast, colour matching, sharpening, cropping.