You'll find shrimp tempura in almost any Japanese restaurant, but they don't always bite or taste the same across the board. Not a lot stay true to the traditional Japanese dish—light, crispy shell around juicy large shrimp—because people commonly mistake it for run-of-the-mill battered and fried seafood.
This easy, home cook-friendly recipe ensures crispy tempura with a foolproof batter. You can use any kind of shrimp for this recipe, regardless of type (white, pink, wild) or size (small, jumbo).
- 1 dozen large shrimp
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup soda water, cold
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
Prepare shrimp: Peel shrimp, starting by twisting off the heads. Remove the shell from the inside out, opening its legs while keeping the tail intact. To devein, insert a toothpick about halfway through the back of the shrimp. Slowly pull the toothpick upwards to remove the black, thread-like vein.
Straighten shrimp: Using a small sharp knife, make a few shallow slits along the underside of the shrimp. This helps straighten the shrimp, preventing it from curling while frying.
Dredge shrimp: Combine baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Toss shrimp in the mixture until well coated. Let sit in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Prepare for frying: While the shrimp rests, heat oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed pot to 375°–390°F.
Make batter: In a large bowl, whisk together cold soda water, flour, baking powder, and salt until there are no dry lumps. Do not overmix!
Fry shrimp: Working in batches, dip cold shrimp into the batter then carefully lower into the hot oil. While shrimp is frying, dip a fork into the batter and drizzle across the shrimp to create a lacy crust. Cook tempura until light golden brown on all sides, about 3–5 minutes. Transfer tempura to a heatproof plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve immediately with dipping sauce of choice.