Juicy prawns fried in a light yet crispy batter then coated in a sweet and creamy mayonnaise based sauce, "Ebi Mayo" is a sure crowd pleaser! This popular Chinese restaurant and izakaya style appetizer is also popular to make at home!
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What is Ebi Mayo?
Ebi Mayo is a simple prawn (shrimp) dish that is usually fried and then coated in a seasoned mayonnaise based sauce. It's usually served as an appetizer with shredded cabbage on the side.
The word "ebi" (エビ) is the Japanese word for prawn and usually tiger prawns or king prawns are used for this recipe.
Although my recipe requires making a batter and deep frying, it's not uncommon to simply coat the prawns in potato starch and fry them in a pan.
The mayonnaise sauce can be used to fully coat the prawns, drizzled over or even served on the side as a dipping sauce. It's totally up to you! (I used Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise to make the sauce.)
Ebi Mayo was created by popular TV chef "Shu Tomitoku", also famously known as "Iron Chef". Shu Tomitoku was Chinese, born in Japan and was one of the greatest contributors to "Chuka Ryori" (Chinese style Japanese dishes) in Japan.
During a trip to LA, Tomitoku tried a mayonnaise flavoured shrimp dish. Although he wasn't too impressed with it, he could see the potential and this is where he got his inspiration for Ebi Mayo.
He coated the prawns in starch, fried them and added extra seasonings to the mayonnaise, Ebi Mayo was born! After introducing the recipe on TV, the dish became a well loved menu item at Chinese restaurants in Japan, as well as being popular to make at home too!
As I mentioned, making a batter is not essential for this dish. But who doesn't love a light yet crispy batter? My batter recipe is inspired by Japanese tempura and British fish and chips! You could say that my ebi mayo recipe is a combination of Chinese, Japanese and British cuisine.
Beer batter is a popular kind of batter used for fish and chips in the UK. A light lager is most commonly used. I used Sapporo lager in my recipe.
Why beer? You might ask... well beer has three components that help to create a perfectly light and crispy batter: carbon dioxide (CO2), foaming agents and alcohol.
The CO2 is the bubbles in the beer, when these react with hot oil they froth up making the batter airy. You could also achieve a similar effect with soda water, but it's still lacking two things that beer has.
You know when you pour a beer and a foam layer forms at the top? Well, this foam coats the CO2 bubbles which slows the rate in which they pop, essentially stopping the batter from deflating. It also helps direct the heat to the batter, resulting in the crispiest coating without overcooking what's inside.
Lastly, the alcohol. Alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, this means that beer batter cooks quicker and again prevents over cooking. This also helps stop it from absorbing too much oil resulting in a crispier and less oily batter.
Sorry about the science talk, but this batter is so good! You can use it for prawns, fish, onion rings, whatever you like!
How to Prep Prawns
Prepping the prawns is probably the most annoying thing about cooking them. You have to use fresh prawns for this recipe otherwise the batter won't stick. I have 3 steps for you to follow.
Step One: Deshell
First, deshell. I find the easiest way is to rip the legs off first and then the shell just comes clean off. It's up to you whether to pull the tails off too, I usually leave them on for decoration and added crunch.
Step Two: Devein
Next, remove the vein. The best way to do this is take a cocktail stick and pierce horizontally through the back of the prawn. You should be able to hook the vein and pull it straight out.
Step Three: Clean
Finally, coat the prawns in a couple of pinches of salt and 1 tsp of corn starch. Rub it over the surface of the prawns and once they're covered, wash them under cold water. The corn starch cleans them out while the salt helps draw out excess moisture which will make them fry better.
Watch How to make Beer Battered Ebi Mayo with homemade sauce (エビマヨ)
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If you like Ebi Mayo, you might like some of my other recipes. Feel free to check them out.
- Ebi Fry (エビフライ) Japanese fried shrimp with homemade tartar sauce
- Tempura Soba (天ぷらそば) Soba noodles served in a dashi soup, topped with tempura
- Homemade Gyoza (手つくり餃子) Japanese style dumplings and sauce from scratch
- Ebi Chili (エビチリ) Stir fried shrimp in chili sauce