Ebi-furai can fortuitously be pronounced ‘ebi fry’ and that’s what it is: shrimp fry. It’s not katsu - I’ve spent some time around various websites featuring katsu, tonkatsu and such, only to find that there is no ebi katsu.
Without coming over all Japanese (I wish), for the folks at home these are scampi. Scampi, as in a £3.50 portion of breaded prawns, with or without chips, once wrapped in a newspaper, now regrettably in a Styrofoam box.
The Japanese version however is in a different league, just like their okonomiyaki is not your ordinary latkes. First of all: Panko breadcrumbs, the best in the world (and guess what, I actually have them homemade, from the tangzhong milk bread, ha!). Secondly, coating and coating so that the shrimp is well wrapped up and protected from the vicious oil, thus staying succulent. Third – you’ve got to straighten the shrimp.
So I tried shouting out at them in a big voice: ‘Atten-SHUN!!’ and then even ‘Stand Ho!’ figuring the shrimp have an affinity to the sea, but it didn’t work. I had to get physical but their posture soon improved dramatically.
There’s the fourth element to ebi-fry and that happily ends in -katsu: tonkatsu sauce which is also served with the pork and chicken fry-up. Awesome it is too: and dead easy, only about a dozen ingredients to mix together. But joking aside – it’s so good I wish there was an odd chippy run by the Japanese around here.
- For the tonkatsu sauce:
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. mirin (or dry sherry)
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- For the prawns for 2 people:
- 6-8 fresh or frozen (thawed) king prawns
- salt and pepper
- plain flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2l (a quart) vegetable oil
- a little shredded lettuce, to serve
To make the tonkatsu sauce, mix all the ingredients and decant to a dipping bowl. The sauce will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
Break the heads off the prawns and shell them leaving the last segment and the tail on. De-vein them using a skewer and tweezers: insert the skewer into the intestinal track and scrape or pull out the intestine with tweezers.
To straighten the prawns, make two or three tiny incisions on the inside (where the legs were) and stretch the prawn back gently to straighten it. Sprinkle them with salt and chill for at least 10 minutes.
Prepare three shallow dishes with plain flour, the egg beaten with 2 tbsp. water and the panko breadcrumbs. Take the prawns out of the fridge and pat them dry, season with black pepper.
Double-coat the prawns with flour and egg: coat each prawn in flour, then dredge in egg wash, flour again and egg wash again before coating it thoroughly with panko. Place the breaded prawns on paper towels and chill again.
Heat the oil in a deep pan to 160C/320F. Deep fry the prawns in batches, for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove them from the oil, drain on paper towels and serve on a bed of shredded lettuce.