Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp


These light and crispy shrimp are fairly low in calories, even though they are fried. You only need about 1 cm / 1/2 an inch of oil to fry these in a regular frying pan, so don’t be afraid to try them even if you don’t do much deep-frying. They are very easy to make with frozen shrimp, and just a bit more work with fresh shrimp.

Recipe: Shrimp Tatsuaage

Adapted from a recipe in Today’s Cooking: Beginners magazine. Each shrimp is about 30-40 calories depending on how well you drain off the oil.

  • 12 medium shrimp, shelled and de-veined, with their tails still on if you can manage it, or frozen uncooked shrimp
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. mirin (or substitute sake or sherry with a pinch of sugar. I prefer to use mirin here over sake, since the sweetness matches well with the shrimp.)
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • Cornstarch or potato starch (katakuriko)
  • Oil for frying
  • Sansho pepper or black pepper (optional)

Prepare your shrimp. If you’re using frozen shrimp defrost them beforehand. (Leave them in the refrigerator overnight, or microwave them on DEFROST for 2-3 minutes. Don’t let them get cooked while you’re defrosting them.You can proceed with the marinating even if the shrimp are a bit frosty. ) I like to leave the tails on for appearance and flavor - they get crispy and crunchy enough that you can eat them too.

Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake and grated ginger in a bowl. Put the shrimp in there, and let marinade for 5-10 minutes. I prefer not to let them marinate for too long, since it sort of kills the shrimp flavor, but you may prefer a longer marinade.

Drain away the liquid. Toss the shrimp in enough cornstarch or potato starch to coat them completely.

Heat up about 1/2 an inch (1 cm) of vegetable oil (I use peanut oil or canola oil or rapeseed oil) in a frying pan. Put the shrimp in in one layer, not overcrowding the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes, then turn over and fry for an additional 2-3 minutes, until they are a reddish golden-brown. Drain the oil well on a rack or on paper towels.

Sprinkle with sansho pepper or freshly ground black pepper before serving.

These are delicious hot or cold. If you’re using them in a bento, let them cool down completely before packing, and they should stay crispy until lunchtime. You may want to add a dipping sauce, but I find it unnecessary since the shrimp are already seasoned well.

Deep fried stuff in a healthy bento?

Sure, if you balance it out with non-fried food, as I did in this bento, which has just 4 shrimp (120 calories):


Fried food in small amounts is more filling and satisfying, as opposed to only eating food that’s boiled, steamed, or raw or whatever. Of course if you are feeding a teenager or an athlete, you can really fill them up with fried food.

Tatsutaage or karaage?

Long time readers of Just Bento and Just Hungry may notice that the marinade and method is very similar to the one for Chicken Karaage. The -age (pronounced ah-GEH) means ‘deep fried’. So what’s the difference between karaage (唐揚げ) and tatsutaage (竜田揚げ)? Not much really, except that ‘karaage’ is used for several kinds of deep fried dishes that are coated in a flour, while ‘tatsutaage’ means something that is marinated, coated with flour of some kind and fried. Either kind of frying method is excellent for bentos. (Incidentally I’ve seen it stated on the interweb that karaage means ‘sesame fried chicken’. That is false information. Sesame fried chicken is called ‘gomaage’ - sesame-fry.)

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Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp


Mmm looks good! Can't wait to try these!

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

I've never actually made shrimp before. When you say 'shelled and de-veined', do you mean 'with the shells removed', and can you use this recipe with cooked shrimp, or must it be uncooked. I assume uncooked.

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

You could have split the back of the shrimp a little more such that it opens up nicely during cooking. However, they look as if they have butterfly butts - which is alright IMO.

I've done this a couple of times over the past year but with sesame oil and a dash of sugar instead of ginger and mirin. I'll try your recipe as soon as I have fresh shrimps on hand. Thank you, Maki-san ^^

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

I have always liked shrimp, but I've never been in love with it because of it's texture. I think the crunchy'ness in this recipe is exactly what I've been looking for. I'm definitely going to try it.

Thanks for the recipe!

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

I got invited out to games & visit with Boston friends, and I'm bringing these in my bento. Thanks for the yummy recipe!

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

Another way to defrost frozen shrimp (or anything) from Good Eats: put them in a bowl or container (I think stainless steel is best) and fill it with the coldest water your tap can manage. Set the bowl in the sink and leave the tap running into the bowl at a small stream, so the extra water is continuously flowing out. It is not as fast as the microwave, but a) the cold water should keep them in a safe temp zone and b) they won't get cooked.

Also, thanks for this recipe - I think I'll try it today!

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

How do you manage to keep the shrimp (and other items) from getting soggy? I made salted chicken per your recipe, and while it turned out scrumptious, it was but a shadow of its crispy self by the time lunch rolled around. I even let it cool down before putting it in the bento box to prevent steam and moisture from building up.

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

If anything else in your bento box, especially the rice, is warm it can make the whole bento box a bit moist. (This is why a lot of people prefer packing the rice separately.) So the trick is to make sure everything has cooled down to room temperature. You can also insulate the parts you want to remain really crispy with a bit of aluminum foil (after cooling of course).

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

Thanks Maki, I made this for our lunches today and they were all well received. Your recipes always are!

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

Hi, I know you put substitutes for the mirin already, but what would you suggest as a non-alcoholic? I still have a few months before I can buy it.

Re: Shrimp Tatsutaage: Japanese Crispy Fried Shrimp

This article has the information you need.

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