Shrimp Tempura Roll (エビ天巻き寿し)
Most types of sushi rolls on the menu at sushi restaurants outside of Japan aren’t very traditional, but Shrimp Tempura Sushi or Ebiten Makizushi is a type of cooked sushi that’s made in homes around Japan. I’ve taken the highlights of both the Japanese and Western versions in my tempura roll recipe and created a hybrid that’s the best of both worlds.
With crunchy shrimp tempura, creamy slices of avocado, and crisp lettuce rolled with sushi rice and nori, this tempura roll has a mouthwatering combination of textures and flavors that makes these as fun to eat as they are delicious.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- Although tempura is meant to be enjoyed with a light coating of crispy batter, this goes soft too quickly for sushi. That’s why I use a thicker batter when making tempura for sushi.
- Double frying the tempura shrimp creates a crunchy crust that stays that way for longer.
- A spicy mayonnaise mixture with hot Japanese mustard adds a nice flavor and mild heat to this sushi roll.
- Avocado and lettuce add creamy and crispy textures while giving the roll a beautiful green accent.
Ingredients for Shrimp Tempura Roll
- Sushi rice – Sushi rice is Japanese short-grain rice that has been cooked using less water than normal and then mixed with seasoned sushi vinegar (a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt). I have a recipe showing you how to make sushi rice, which includes a detailed video of each step.
- Nori – A nori sheet is a dried sheet of seaweed used to hold a sushi roll together. When selecting nori, try and choose one with a smooth surface and nearly black color. Nori that appears green is thinner (an indicator of low quality), and nori that is reddish is old.
- Shrimp – I recommend using 13/15 count shrimp, which is also sometimes called “colossal”. The count just means there are 13 to 15 shrimp per pound. This is the perfect-size to ensure that 2 pieces of tempura will reach from one end of the roll to the other and still have a bit of the tail sticking out of the ends.
- Flour – To make a light crispy tempura batter it’s important to use a low-gluten flour like pastry flour or cake flour. If you can’t find either, you can use all-purpose flour, but it becomes even more important not to over mix it or your tempura will end up dense and hard.
- Avocado – The avocado lends creamy richness to the roll, which is a nice contrast to the crunchy tempura.
- Lettuce – Lettuce is a common addition to shrimp tempura rolls in Japan. It adds a nice texture, but more importantly it adds a splash of color especially when the leaves are peaking out the ends of the roll. Cucumber would also be a good choice here.
- Mayonnaise – Japanese people love the combination of shrimp and mayonnaise. I recommend using a Japanese-style mayo, which tends to be more tangy and a little sweeter than its Western counterpart. I’ve also seen some people use cream cheese.
- Mustard – Japanese mustard or Karashi is a spicy condiment used in Japanese cuisine. When combined with mayonnaise it’s known as karashimayo and it’s used in sandwiches, as a topping for okonomiyaki and is fantastic in this sushi roll. Look for it sold in tubes near the wasabi.
- Tobiko – Tobiko is flying fish roe. The small eggs have a fun poppy texture that also adds a splash of color when applied to the outside of the roll. If fish roe isn’t your thing, you can skip it or substitute toasted sesame seeds.
How to Make Shrimp Tempura for Sushi
Since tempura shrimp needs to stay crunchy when rolled with rice and other ingredients, there are a few key differences in its preparation that you usually wouldn’t do for tempura.
- Thicker batter – This is considered undesirable for tempura because it obscures the ingredient inside the batter, but it helps ensure the crust stays crunchy for sushi.
- Double fry – For tempura you eat right away, it’s best to fry it only enough to get the batter crisp, so the shrimp stays plump and juicy, but if you want crunchy tempura, it’s best to double fry the shrimp. The downside of this approach is that it will make the shrimp drier, so you can decide which trait is more important to you and fry the shrimp accordingly.
To make the shrimp tempura, you first need to clean and devein the shrimp. Then you want to cut shallow slits into the stomach side of the shrimp (inside of the curl). Next, you can flip the shrimp over and use your thumbs to press on the backside of the shrimp to straighten it out. This keeps the shrimp from curling when fried.
I also recommend removing the sharp spike on the tail, called the telson. Then you want to use a knife to squeegee the water out of the tail. These steps will prevent the tail from popping, which can send hot oil flying all over the place when you fry it.
Preheat a deep pot with a few inches of vegetable oil to 360°F (180°C). Line a wire rack with a few sheets of paper towels.
Now you want to dust the shrimp meat with a generous flour coating. Try to avoid getting too much flour on the tails.
To make the batter, add the ice water to the cake flour and use a whisk to quickly mix the two together. You want to stop when the batter is barely mixed, and there are still some small lumps in it.
To fry the shrimp, grab each one by the tail and dip the body into the batter to coat it evenly (don’t coat the tail). Lower the shrimp into the oil as you shake and pull it. This ensures the shrimp ends up as long as possible with frilly batter. Fry the shrimp until crisp (about two minutes). When the tempura is crispy, transfer it to the prepared rack to drain and repeat with the remaining shrimp.
If you want your shrimp to be juicy and don’t mind the batter losing its crunch, you can proceed to make the roll. However, if you want the shrimp crunchy, fry the shrimp again for an additional two minutes.
How to Roll Shrimp Tempura Sushi
To make the spicy mayo, add the mayonnaise and mustard into a small bowl and stir together. Line a makisu (bamboo mat) with plastic wrap. Prepare a bowl of tezu by mixing a tablespoon of rice vinegar into a cup of water.
Lay a sheet of nori on the prepared sushi mat. Since the nori will be inside the roll, it doesn’t matter which side is facing up, but you do want to place the nori so the long edge is facing you and the short edges are to the sides.
Wet your hands with the tezu and grab a handful of sushi rice. Spread the rice in a log at the top of the nori, from one side to the other. Keeping your fingers wet, pick and place the rice to spread it towards you in a thin, even layer. Repeat with another handful of rice if needed.
Spread some tobiko on the lower half of the rice and then grab the two corners of nori and rice closest to you, and flip the sheet away from you, so the two corners you were holding are furthest from you.
Place two strips of lettuce just below the midline of the nori. Stagger a few wedges of avocado on top of the lettuce, and then top with two pieces of shrimp tempura with the tails sticking out the sides of the roll. Finally, top the tempura with some of the mustard mayonnaise.
Grab the edge of the makisu closest to you and roll it up and over the fillings, so the edge of the rice makes contact with the nori on the other side. Give this a firm even squeeze to compress the fillings and set the shape of the roll.
Now pull the edge of the mat up and use it to roll the roll the rest of the way. Wrap the roll with the makisu with the seam facing down. Then apply even pressure to the mat to finalize the shape of the roll.
To cut the sushi, use a wet paper towel to wipe down a long sharp knife and cut both ends off the roll. You want to cut these thick enough, so they don’t fall apart. Be sure to wipe the blade after each slice.
Cut the remaining roll in half and line the two halves up. Slice the halves into thirds and stagger each piece of sushi so you can see the fillings. Plate and serve with soy sauce and sushi ginger.
Other Sushi Recipes
Shrimp Tempura Roll or Ebiten Maki Sushi (エビ天巻き寿し) is a type of maki sushi or sushi roll that includes tempura fried shrimp rolled in sushi rice and nori. In Japan, the roll is usually made with the nori on the outside. Outside of Japan, it’s often rolled uramaki-style (inside out), with the rice on the outside. Although it’s become a staple in sushi restaurants around the world, here in Japan, it’s mostly a dish that’s made at home, and you’re unlikely to find it on the menu at traditional sushi restaurants. A similar roll can also be made with Ebifry, which involves shrimp breaded in panko.
Ebiten Maki Sushi is a 7-syllable name. Because maki-sushi is a compound word, the first consonant of the second half undergoes a transformation called Rendaku. This changes its pronunciation from “s” to “z”. The whole name is pronounced as follows (read the italicized parts).
e like enter
bi like beef
ten like ten
ma like mall
ki like key
zu like zoo
shi like sheet
The shrimp and rice in this roll are fully cooked. The avocado and lettuce are raw.
There are no hard and fast rules, and the roll’s contents often vary by who makes it. In Japan, the most typical fillings are shrimp, lettuce, and mayonnaise. Outside of Japan, common fillings include avocado and cucumber, and the roll is often topped with teriyaki sauce (a.k.a. “unagi sauce”)
For Shrimp Tempura
- 320 grams shrimp (10 13/15-count, cleaned & deveined)
- ⅔ cup water (ice water)
- 45 grams cake flour (~1/3 cup, for dusting)
- 100 grams cake flour (~3/4 cup)
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
For Tempura Sushi Roll
- 1 batch prepared sushi rice
- 5 full sheets nori
- 1 avocado (sliced into 14-16 wedges)
- 5 leaves lettuce (stems removed & halved)
- ¼ cup Japanese mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Japanese hot mustard
- 75 grams tobiko (~ 1/2 cup, optional)
Make Shrimp Tempura
- Preheat a deep pot with a few inches of oil to 360°F (180°C). Prepare a wire rack by lining it with a few sheets of paper towels.
- To prep the shrimp, cut shallow slits into the underside of the shrimp.
- Flip them over and press on the backside, starting from the base and working your way to the tail.
- Dust the shrimp with flour.
- Make the tempura batter by whisking the cold water into the flour. Do not overmix.
- Dip the meat part of the shrimp in the batter and lower it into the oil while shaking and pulling it.
- Fry the shrimp for around 2 minutes, or until the batter is crisp, flipping the shrimp over a few times.
- Transfer the tempura to the prepared rack and repeat with the remaining shrimp.
- Double fry the shrimp by adding them back into the oil until they’ve crisped again (~2 minutes). Drain the crisped shrimp on the rack and proceed to make the rolls.
Make Shrimp Tempura Sushi
- Make Karashimayo by stirring together the mayonnaise and mustard. Prepare some tezu by mixing a tablespoon of rice vinegar into a cup of water. Wrap your makisu (sushi mat) with plastic wrap.
- Place a piece of nori on your sushi mat with the long edge facing you. Wet your hands in the tezu and scoop up a ball of rice with one hand. Deposit this rice across the top edge of the nori in an even column.
- Keep your hands wet and spread the rice down the nori towards you. Use a picking and placing action (you don’t want to smear or mash the rice). Repeat as many times as needed to cover the nori with a thin, even layer of rice.
- Spread some tobiko across the bottom half of the rice.
- Grab the two corners of nori closest to you, lift the sheet up and flip it over by moving the corners away from you (the corners you’re not holding should now be closest to you).
- Place two strips of lettuce just below the center center of the nori and stagger a few wedges of avocado on top.
- Place two pieces of shrimp tempura on top with each tail sticking out of the opposite sides of the rice. Spread some Karashimayo on the tempura.
- Lift the edge of the mat that's closest to you and roll it over the fillings until the edge of rice makes contact with the nori on the other side.
- Press the mat evenly to compress the filling and set the shape of the roll.
- Lift the edge of the mat and use it to roll the roll the rest of the way.
- Wrap the roll in the makisu with the seam of the roll facing down. Use your hands to apply even pressure to the mat to set the shape of the roll.
- Unwrap the roll and use a long, sharp, wet knife to slice both ends off of the tempura sushi.
- Cut the roll in half. Line the two halves up and then cut these into thirds.