October 31, 2006

Lesson 101: Perfecting the art of Tempura Prawns

Ever wondered how Japanese restaurants got their battered prawns looking long, large and extravagantly battered instead of curled up ones we make at home on our own?
Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to watch and assist a Sushi chef in her kitchen. I watched attentively, stealing tricks of the trade in a subtle manner. *sneaky grin*:P

Tempura flour is available from most Asian supermarkets and is commonly sold in the "Add water" variation so there shouldn't be too many complications of any sort there.
Some may wonder, "How much water?". I would reply; "It's in the feel of the hand" Haha....try to get the batter consistency into the feel of crepe batter, a milkshake left out too long or maybe beaten egg yolks if thats easier to picture. From my very inaccurate eye, I would say I had 1 cup of water to almost 1/3 cup flour. It really depends on the brand as well.
Here are a couple of pointers with the prawns:
  • Always use large fresh prawns (Banana prawns or Tiger prawns work best with tempura). It's okay if they are frozen; as long as you are certain that they were frozen "fresh" and not left out for too long before the fishmongers packed them away in to the freezer.
  • Dunk the prawns in cold running water to wash/peel them if they have not been shelled. Leave the little tail bit of shell on.
  • Turn prawns curled up on the chopping board; *sorta like a smiley face facing up* and make gentle slits of 2 cm increments along the whole body of the prawn.
  • Flip the prawn over and lie flat on the chopping board. Working from tail to end; gently press down with fingers close to each other to create a long flat, fragile piece of shrimp meat.
  • Always coat your prawns well in the flour to allow the batter to stick. Remember the tiny crevices between slits. Be gentle, the prawns break easily at this point.
  • Add water to the unused flour and heat the oil in the fryer.
  • Fry the prawns in HOT oil. To test if the oil is ready, shake a couple grains of salt into the oil. The oil is ready when you hear a sharp sizzling noise. They should be fried very quickly and not left in for too long. Prawns do not take too long to be overdone.
  • The pictures taken here were made for a very homely family-type lunch, but if you would to have extravagant looking prawns with sprays of batter and butterfly battered prawns, try flicking a pair of chopsticks dipped in batter of the hot oil. You should get beautiful sprays of crisp batter to coat the prawns. It makes them appear larger and more heroic~ Haha..try assembling the prawns on the platter with these crisp bits too. Scope them out and drain excess oil on a paper towel.

*sigh* I wish I lived close to a fish market....I would make more seafood If I drove. LOL


christina said...

You can also try coating prawns with panko(japanese breadcrumbs) if you haven't tried before....taste yummy too! =)

QuaVadis said...

Tempura, well, not only prawns wld work well with this batter but so wld veges and such...

by the way, am too lazy to look for it, but can u tell me or show me the link to how to make the perfect royal icing :P

Anonymous said...

Hi su... in your steps, u mentioned to coat the prawns with flour, followed by add water to the unused flour. Just wondering, do i add water first to the tempura flour and dip the prawn in and fry or do i coat them with flour and fry?

flower said...

You are really rajin. Cooking all sort of food and dishes. Did I tell you that I wish you are my neighbour here in Perth?

michie said...

Babe! The tempura looks soooo gooooood!!! And all da cakes, manz yr the chef la!! Must really set up a cake shop in da future or a cafe for nice cakes and fooood!! Soooo impressed!!!

Oh btw did u dip the prawns into tempura flour first before dipping again into tempura batter?

ViNi said...

omg! u better make me sumtin when i get there! need to camp out ur place before i get married, lol.

Su-Yin said...

chistina: thanks for the tips! I'll definitely check that one out soon

quavadis: I have a link on my side bar under "sweet delights" if im not mistaken...Here's a link. A disclaimer though...nothing i make is perfect...so yea...haha...perfect-ing is the key word :P

jacelyn: hmm coat the prawns....remove the prawns from the flour...add water to the flour left in the bowl, mix..and dipped the prawns you set aside in again :) Hope thats clear now..lol

flower: haha Lama tak dengar orang guna bahasa melayu :P hehehe

michie: LOl thanks...*blush* means alot...specially coming from you..my idol haha everyones getting confused wiht my flour instructions...should I edit my recipe..LOL

vini: Haha....anytime dear :)

QuaVadis said...

TQ Suyin..will try it out before Christmas and C if I can do it properly...

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I will add it to my blogroll!

I am definitely going to use your tips when I make my next fried prawns - thx!

mj25patricia said...

I like your prawns!!.. It looks delicious.. demo.. I saw a better tempura.. Do you know The Japanese drama, Yamato Nadeshiko, starred by Kamenashi Kazuya?.. he plays the role of Kyohei.. He really loves tempura and Sunako, the lead female character played by Aya Omasa, always cooks tempura for him.. That tempura looks delicious too.. If you want, you can try the same too..