Maybe you have heard or read the word “katsu” before.
In the world of Japanese food and cooking, it means a cutlet. It often means the food is breaded and deep-fried in oil until golden brown. If I may give you its examples, Tonkatsu (pork), Chicken katsu (chicken), Menchi katsu (a patty of ground beef) belong to it. But we have another word to describe breaded and deep-fried food as “Furai”. The examples are well known as Ebi Furai(shrimp), Kaki Furai(oysters) and Ika Furai(squid) etc. As you can easily imagine the word “Furai” comes from “to fry” (in this case deep-frying in oil) and it is a popular way of cooking in Japanese ordinary home cooking. You may like Korokke too. Korokke is also a very popular breaded and deep-fried food in Japan, it has so many variations but the most basic one consists of mashed potato with/without onion, ground beef, salt and pepper. All these deep-fried food are basically in the same category but it seems to me the term “katsu” applies when it is a flat piece of meat that is breaded and deep fried in oil. I have not heard words like “Pork Furai” or “Beef Furai” in Japan.
But then, here comes “Ebi Katsu”. Ebi means shrimps, so this is a Katsu of Shrimps. It is not a meat but we still call it a katsu. There is “Ebi Furai” as mentioned before, and what is the difference? I think it lies in the shape. The golden rule of “Ebi Furai” is that you have to be able to present it maintaining the nice form and shape of the shrimp. We make some incisions on the stomach side of the shrimp to avoid curling while frying and give effort to straighten the shrimp. It is all for the looks. An Ebi Furai without the red tail is not considered as a perfect Ebi Furai. It is just a fried shrimp, you may say so, but it is really what Ebi Furai is all about. As much as the juicy meat of shrimp, crisp coat of breadcrumbs, lemon juice and tartar sauce, the beautiful straight form of the shrimp and the red tail are the important factors for Ebi Furai!!
Well, I have talked so much about Ebi Furai, let me go back to Ebi Katsu….
So, I said the term Katsu applies when the deep fried meat is a flat one. There were some people who thought we can make a Katsu with shrimps if we cut them in to small pieces and put them together and make a flat patty. A hamburger chain “Lotteria” in Japan made a product called “Ebi Burger” in 1977 and it was the first burger with fried shrimp in the world. I remember that day, there were long lines of people in front of Lotteria to buy this. It became a big hit and it still is a popular menu not only in Lotteria but also made by other hamburger/fast food chains in Japan. (I wish I could have it in Norway too as we have good shrimps here, but I have never seen shrimp burger here in Norway) I thought it was a smart idea but personally I think it is much better to form it like a ball to keep the juicy meat of the shrimp that has been cut so small. It is out of the convenience of serving it as a burger that comes with a flat shrimp patty in between the buns, but when you make it I think it is better in a round ball shape. The heat penetrates in the ball much slower and indirectly and thus it keep the moist texture and juice inside the ball. And, it looks cute! Yap, all for the looks!
So here is the recipe :
Frozen shrimps (no head, with shell) 300g
10 green beans
1/2 red onion
flour, salt, pepper, mayonnaise
Flour, egg and panko for breading
Lemon, tartar sauce if you like
1. Boil lightly the green beans in a boiling water with salt.
Take them out of the pan and cool in the ice water. Cut into small pieces.
2. Cut red onion into small pieces.
3. Defrost the shrimps. Clean the shrimps by removing the shell and devine both on stomach
side and the back side. Put them in a bowl, add salt, mix and massage. Rinse with water.
Repeat this 2-3 times to clean the shrimps. Pat dry on kitchen paper. Cut them into small
pieces. It depends on the size of your shrimp, but I cut each shrimp nto 2 small pieces.
4. Put all the ingredients in a bowl together with 1 egg.
5. Mix with 1 table spoon of flour, salt and pepper. Mix well. The flour and egg should bind all
together (like you make a dough for Okonomiyaki). If you like mayonnaise, you can add it here.
Then the mayonnaise may loosen the dough a bit. If the dough became too loose, you can add
more flour. But don’t add too much, it will taste like a ball of flour!!
6. When your mixture is firm enough to form a ball, make 5 round balls. You can do it by using a
spoon or a round small bowl too. (I do it by hands)
7. Coat with flour, egg and panko.
8. Heat the oil to 160 ℃. Put the shrimp balls, 2 at a time. Deep fry them and cook them rather slowly. Patient, patient. Rotate them 360 degrees with 2 spoons. Don’t use chopsticks! (you do not want to prick any holes!)
9. It takes about 6-7 minutes to cook them through. Green beans are pre cooked and onions are ok, so it is really cook shrimps. At the last 1-2 minutes, you bring the heat up to 180℃ to give a good yummy golden brown color on them.
10. Drain well. Lemon juice or tartar sauce? it is up to you. Bon Appetit!