Misty Fried Shrimp

Ebi no Kasumi Agé

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    30

Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

The poetic name of this dish refers to the illusion of rising white mists created by the deep-fried transparent noodles that cling to the shrimp. This classic Japanese appetizer is one of the most popular party foods in my repertoire. The shrimp are particularly scrumptious when piping hot, if your kitchen can accommodate immediate service of fried foods, but they’re crunchy-delicious at room temperature, too.

Ingredients

  • 2–3 ounces dried harusamé ("spring rain” cellophane noodles) OR Chinese bean thread noodles
  • 30 large shrimp
  • cup (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sansbō (fragrant Japanese pepper), optional
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten with ½ teaspoon water
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • lemon OR lime wedges

Method

You’ll need to cut the brittle noodles into ½-inch lengths, and there are two ways to avoid scattering them all over your kitchen: The first is to use a food processor; the second is to use scissors in a closed bag.

If you choose method one, fit your food processor with the metal blade and pull apart the bunch of noodles as best you can, placing them around the blade to load the bowl evenly. Pulse-process with many short stops and starts. It will make an enormous amount of noise. As the large mass begins to break up, you may want to remove half or even two thirds of the noodle pieces and continue processing in small batches. Because the friction is so great, the bowl may begin to feel a bit warm to the touch. If that happens, let the machine rest for a minute or two, then continue to process until all the pieces are about ½ inch long.

If you choose method two, use the sharpest pair of scissors or kitchen shears you have. Place the noodles inside a large, sturdy, clear plastic bag. Place the hand in which you’re holding the scissors inside the bag. Secure the bag to your wrist with string or a rubber band, but be careful not to make your tie uncomfortably tight. Snip away at the noodles, assured that the small pieces won’t fly all over your kitchen.

Whichever method you choose to cut your noodles, if you experience difficulty because they seem a bit soggy, place them in a 200-degree oven for about 10 minutes before resuming your cutting efforts. Noodles can be cut weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container on your shelf.

Peel the shrimp, keeping the last section and tail intact. Make a shallow slit down the back of each shrimp and remove the “vein,” which is really the intestinal tract. Flip the shrimp over and make two or three shallow diagonal slits across the underbelly. Gently press on these slits to straighten out the curved shrimp and keep them from curling when fried. Rinse the shrimp quickly under cold water, than pat dry.

Season the flour with the salt and Japanese pepper, and lightly dust the shrimp in the mixture. Be sure to dust the tails as well. Dip the shrimp, one at a time, in the beaten egg whites, then roll them in the cut noodle pieces. Each piece of noodle will puff and expand considerably, so don’t be concerned by gaps between the brittle pieces before frying. The shrimp can be coated 1–2 hours in advance of frying, and if you plan on doing so, cover them lightly with paper towels, then refrigerate until it’s time to fry them.

Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a wok or deep-fat fryer. Test the temperature of the oil with a piece of noodle. Ideally it should sink slightly, rise, and puff, but not color on the surface. The oil should be about 340 degrees. Lay the shrimp gently in the hot oil, two or three at a time. The noodle coating will puff immediately but it will take 1 ½–2 minutes for the shrimp to cook through. Turn them once after 45 seconds of frying. When done, the flesh of the shrimp peeking through the “misty” noodles should be opaque. Transfer the shrimp to a rack to drain. With a fine-meshed skimmer, clear the oil of any noodle debris from the first batch before continuing. Fry the remaining shrimp, testing the temperature of the oil for each new batch, and skimming the oil afterward.

Serve hot or at room temperature, with lemon or lime wedges on the side.