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Tempura Prawns (Batterfried Prawns)

Tempura is an authentic Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried. Tempura most likely established itself in Japan as a result of the Spanish and Portuguese missionaries and traders, who introduced deep-frying in oil during the late 1500’s.   Tempura batter is a light batter which is made from cold still or sparkling water and wheat flour. Eggs, bicarb of soda or baking powder, oil, and/or spices may be added to the batter. Tempura batter is traditionally mixed in small batches using chopsticks for only a few seconds, leaving lumps in the mixture that, along with the cold batter temperature, result in the unique fluffy and crisp tempura structure when cooked. The batter is often kept cold by adding ice, or by placing the bowl inside a larger bowl with ice in it.

Also see the recipes for Best-ever Batter-fried Fish and Batter-fried Calamari Rings for other types of batters.

500 g prawns, deveined and shelled
75 ml cake flour
75 ml corn flour (Maizena)
5 ml salt
200 ml ice-cold still or sparkling water
Canola or sunflower oil for frying

To serve
Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce
Soy Sauce

  1. To make the batter, combine the cake flour, corn flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the water a little at a time while stirring, until the batter has a medium consistency – it must look a little thicker than buttermilk.  Do not worry about the lumps.  Set it aside.
  3. Place the prawns in a colander, rinse well and pat dry.
  4. Pour oil to a depth of 5 cm in a large saucepan and heat to moderately hot.
  5. When the oil is ready, add a few of the prawns to the batter and stir to coat well.
  6. Lift the prawns out of the batter with a slotted spoon and allow the excess batter to drip off.  Slowly lower the prawns into the oil.
  7. It is important to fry the prawns in batches to ensure that the temperature of the oil remains constant.  Do not overcrowd the pan.
  8. Fry the prawns until golden and crisp on all sides.
  9. Remove the tempura from the oil with a 2nd slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate lined with absorbent kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil.
  10. Transfer the tempura to a serving dish and set aside.
  11. Do the same with the rest of the prawns.
  12. Cover the dish with foil and reheat in a preheated oven at 160 ºC until warmed through.

The batter can also be used to coat skinless and boneless fish steaks that has been cut up into bite-sized pieces, or calamari rings.  Also fresh vegetables such as onion cut into rings, green beans, red, green or yellow sweet pepper, julienned carrots, etc.  The fish or calamari must be thawed.

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