Shrimp Tempura Bento
Shrimp Tempura – A great tempura lies in the batter, which should produce crispy, airy, light, and non-greasy tempura. Try my recipe!
6 shrimp or tiger prawn, shelled, deveined and tail on
3 pieces Italian squash or zucchini
3 pieces sweet potato (yam)
3 green beans
3 pieces kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Black sesame seeds
Baby Spinach and Tofu Salad
1 tablespoon Mizkan (Bonito Flavored) Soup Base
5 tablespoons water
1/4 tablespoon grated daikon
3 oz rice flour
1 oz all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg yolk
150 ml ice cold water
3 small ice cubes
Baby Spinach and Tofu Salad:
Tofu, cut into small cubes
Some shredded carrot
Mizkan Miso and Mustard Dressing
White sesame seeds
To avoid the shrimp from curling, cut a few shallow vertical slits at the bottom of the shrimp.
Prepare the other vegetable ingredients and lay on a flat surface or plate.
Prepare the dipping sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Right before you’re ready to fry the tempura, mix all the ingredients of the Batter in a bowl, with a pair of chopsticks. Stir to combine well. The texture should have a runny consistency but a little lumpy is fine. Add the ice cubes in the batter.
Heat about 3 inches of oil in a flat bottom deep skillet to about 340 degree F for deep-frying. Stir the batter with a pair of chopsticks before coating the ingredients with the batter. Start off by frying the vegetables. Coat each piece of the vegetables with the batter and deep fry until light brown. Do not overcrowd the skillet so you might need to deep fry the vegetables in two batches. When the vegetables are done, transfer them out onto a dish lined with paper towels. To deep fry the shrimp, dip each shrimp in the batter and drop the shrimp into the wok, laying it flat on the skillet so the bottom part of the shrimp goes down to the skillet, which will make the lacy effect on the shrimp. Repeat the same for the other shrimp. When the shrimp turn yellowish and light golden in color and become crispy, dish out with a strainer or slotted spoon, draining the excess oil on a dish lined with paper towels.
Baby Spinach and Tofu Salad:
Arrange all the ingredients of the salad in the bento box. Drizzle some Mizkan Miso and Mustard Dressing on top of the salad and add the sesame seeds on top.
Assembling the Shrimp Tempura Bento:
Arrange the steamed rice in the rice compartment and top with some black sesame seeds. Next, prepared the salad according to the Salad recipe above. Place the salmon teriyaki and arrange the shrimp tempura and vegetables in the main compartment of the bento box. Add a little dipping sauce in the small compartment next to the tempura, save the remaining in a small bowl for dipping.
The bento is now done and ready to be served.
Tempura—the crispy, deep-fried seafood/vegetable is a popular Japanese recipe that everyone loves. If you think about Japanese food, especially the ones commonly served in the US, tempura is probably one of the top three items that springs to the mind. I love a good serving of tempura, dipped in the light yet flavorful tempura dipping sauce. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like tempura.
Even though tempura is an iconic Japanese food, it originated from Portugal. Just like some other popular Japanese dishes, the talented Japanese chefs and home cooks had perfected the original recipes and make them uniquely Japanese. That’s the main reason I love Japanese cooking: the dedication to continue improving and refining its cuisine and make it better, even though some recipes are not native Japanese.
While you can get shrimp tempura at many Japanese restaurant, it’s a dish that’s easy enough to make at home, with a few store-bought ingredients. For example: this gorgeous looking shrimp tempura bento takes about 40 minutes to make, including the assembling time. A perfect tempura should be crispy with a yellowish/golden, lacy exterior. My Japanese cooking sensei (teacher) and my friend Chef Robert Danhi taught me many precious cooking tips and techniques about making restaurant-quality tempura, which I will share with you below.
Tips and Tricks of Making Tempura:
- A great tempura lies in the batter, which should produce crispy, airy, light, and non-greasy tempura. Ice cold water and ice cubes are very important ingredients to the batter, and the deep-frying technique and the oil temperature are key to achieving the crispy lacy effect. A little baking powder also makes the batter crispier.
- The batter should be made just before the deep-frying. When making the batter, use a pair of chopsticks to stir the batter. Do not over-stir it as it should stay a little lumpy.
- Right before you use the batter, add in a few ice cubes and stir to combine with the batter. This loosen up the batter and chill it further to provide an airy, fluffy, and crispy exterior of the tempura.
- Cut off the pointed tail of the shrimp to avoid the shrimp from splattering while frying. (See picture guide in the recipe below.)
- To make a quick and easy tempura dipping sauce, use Mizkan (Bonito Flavored) Soup Base and dilute with warm water. The perfect ratio is 1:5. Add a little grated daikon and you have the perfect dipping sauce.
Now that you have the tips and technique handy, let’s talk about the shrimp tempura bento. I paired the tempura with Mizkan (Bonito Flavored) Soup Base, which has been diluted with water as a tempura dipping sauce. I also prepared salmon teriyaki, a healthy and absolutely refreshing baby spinach and tofu salad with Mizkan Miso and Mustard dressing, and serve it with rice. For the rice, I used a Japanese cylinder-shaped mold to shape the rice into two rolls and topped with some black sesame (use only Japanese short grain rice when making Japanese bento). As you can infer from the pictures here, this shrimp tempura bento looks like it’s straight from a Japanese restaurant and tasted absolutely delightful.