What is Ebi Tempura えび天ぷら ?
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 Sushi
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.