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Nobu's Spicy Shrimp Tempura

In Appetizer, Asian, Equipment and Tools, Fish and Seafood, Hors d'oeuvres, Main Course, Recipe, Sauces / Condiments
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One of my favorite features of Bon Appetit magazine has always been the r.s.v.p. section.  This is where readers write to ask the Bon Appetit staff to chase down chefs in order to discover the recipes of their favorite restaurant meals.  I've never written in myself, but have loved reading about people's special food memories, and their quest to uncover the secrets to making a beloved "restaurant" dish at home.

That said, the boys and I came across a dish this past Spring, that had I not already had the recipe in a cookbook I owned (how lucky was that?), I almost certainly would have been begging Bon Appetit to get it for me.  My desperation not only driven by how perfectly tasty the dish is, but also by Grid relentlessly hounding me to figure out how to make Nobu's "Tempura Shrimp with Creamy Spicy Sauce"....man, you'd think I never feed the kid.

The dish is so addictive that when we ordered it as a shared appetizer, I started to really fear that someone was going to get hurt, as the four of us stabbed our chopsticks into the serving bowl to fight for our share.  It got UGLY in a hurry!

Thankfully, the beneficent Nobu Matsuhisa included this relatively simple recipe in his "Nobu Now" cookbook, and I, in my infinite wisdom, thought it a grand idea to buy the book a few years back.  As Gridley would surely tell you himself, this recipe is delicious, and easy enough to eat every night, but given that is essentially consists of deep fried shrimp tossed in freshly made mayonnaise and a splash of Yuzu Juice - 750 ml , your cardiologist may advise you to make it a bit less frequently.

Grid made this so many times over the holidays that he is absolutely my go-to guy when I feel the need.  In fact, I believe the young man was on a bit of a mission, desperately attempting to enlighten all of our holiday guests as to the joys of Nobu's shrimp.  Folks would no sooner have their jackets hung before Grid was asking if he could make them some tempura. 


He has mastered not only the homemade spicy mayo, or as Nobu calls it, the "Creamy Spicy Sauce", but also the ins and outs of deep frying.

The dish is a great hors d'oeuvre to be skewered with toothpicks while enjoying a cocktail, or as we had it a few nights ago, as an entree accompanied by some plain rice, and stir-fried Chinese broccoli and shiitake mushrooms.


Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce

Adapted from: Nobu Matsuhisa's Nobu Now ( Signet By Ahutor) Hardcover

Serves 8-10 as an appetizer, 4-6 as a main course

(Print Friendly Recipe)


Creamy Spicy Sauce:  (enough to coat 1 1/2 lbs. of shrimp)

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt and a couple grinds of fresh white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 100 ml grapeseed oil (or other very mildly flavored oil)
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (Tobanjan), we use Sambal

Tempura Batter:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200 ml iced water
  • 100 gr all purpose flour

Shrimp Tempura:

  • 1 1/2 pounds rock shrimp, or peeled and deveined "large" shrimp cut into thirds
  • tempura batter
  • Splash of Yuzu juice (or lemon juice)
  • Chives
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying (we use corn oil)


Creamy Spicy Sauce:

Make the mayonnaise (creamy spicy sauce) by whisking together the egg yolk, salt, pepper, and vinegar, and then VERY gradually whisk in the grapeseed oil.  Start with just a few drops of oil at a time until your emulsion is well formed, then increase the oil to a small drizzle, whisking all the while.  Once the mayo is thick and all the oil has been incorporated, add the chili sauce and check for seasoning.

Tempura Batter:

Lightly whisk together all ingredients to make the batter.

Shrimp Tempura:

Peel and de-vein the shrimp, cut large shrimp into bite-sized pieces.

In a heavy deep pot (we use a le creuset dutch oven) place about 5" of oil, and with the aid of a Taylor Classic Candy and Deep-Fry Analog Thermometer , heat to 355℉ (180 C).  Working in batches, dredge the shrimp in the batter and gently place 2-3 handfuls in the hot oil, fry until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.  Scoop shrimp onto a paper towel covered sheet tray to drain and repeat the process until all the shrimp is cooked.

Place the cooked shrimp into a large bowl with the creamy spicy sauce, and toss to coat.  Splash with a little yuzu juice, sprinkle with chopped fresh chives, and serve.


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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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