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Cilantro Shrimp Tempura-Style

Cilantro Shrimp Tempura-Style


Here's another dish to consider as you plan your Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes, or any time you want a tasty bite to start a meal: lightly battered shrimp, with cilantro in the batter, quickly fried and served with a simple dipping sauce. A whole meal of tempura can be a messy, difficult undertaking but these by themselves these are easy and quick. For a simple, low carb supper I combine these with a substantial salad and maybe a side of broccoli rabe or other cooked greens.  

At 219 calories per serving they can fit into a weight management plan, and at just 9 grams of carbohydrates this dish works really well for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes who are looking for satisfying food while keeping blood glucose levels under control.

Cilantro Shrimp Tempura-Style


  • 12 ounces medium shrimp (shelled weight)
  • 1 cup corn starch plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup cold soda water
  • 1/4 cup (packed), cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) washed, dried and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten with a fork
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying (ideally an unsaturated oil such as canola or safflower)
  • Additional salt

For the optional dipping sauce: 

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon white or red wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest


1. Wash the shrimp and dry them with paper towels. 

2. Mix the cornstarch, water, cilantro, salt, cayenne pepper and egg. Stir until the batter is smoothly combined. 

3. Place some more cornstarch in a small bowl. With chopsticks or tongs, dip the shrimp one at a time in the cornstarch, shake off any excess and then dip them in the batter. Place the battered shrimp on a plate in a single layer and allow to rest for about 15 minutes. 

4. If using, mix the dipping sauce ingredients and place in small serving bowls. 

5. Place the vegetable oil in a sauce pan with 2 quart minimum capacity (to be sure to contain any splatter). 

6. Heat the oil to about 375º. Place the shrimp one at a time into the hot oil. Maintain the temperature of the oil if possible. Do not crowd the shrimp - fry in 3 or 4 batches. The shrimp are done when golden brown, usually after about 3 minutes. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon to a rack or a large sieve to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt and keep earlier batches warm, uncovered, in a 275º oven while finishing the rest.

Serve immediately, with the dipping sauce on the side. 


Deep frying is slightly more dangerous than other kitchen tasks but if you observe a few rules you will be safe: Never fill a pan more than half full of oil for deep frying. Keep a lid for your pan handy – if the oil foams up quickly towards the lip of the pan, cover it and remove from heat immediately. Never leave a pan of oil for deep frying unattended while on the heat. If the oil is smoking actively it is too hot for deep frying – cover it, remove from heat and allow to cool before continuing. Food that is wet (recently washed or defrosted meat, for instance) will cause excessive foaming and spatter. Dry the food before frying. 

Oil used for deep frying may be strained and reused until it turns dark. 

Nutritional Estimate 4 Servings. Per serving: 219 Calories; 9 g Total Carbs; 0 g Dietary Fiber; 0 g Sugars; 12 g Fat; 183 mg Cholesterol; 225 mg Sodium; 18 g Protein. Weight Watchers: 5 points.

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Why is "soda water" used in the recipe? Does it have a significant effect on the batter?

Hi Greg...thanks for stopping by and leaving your question....soda water is a traditional ingredient in tempura batter but I dont know why...ther seems to be agreement, though, that it makes the final product lighter and crisper....something in those CO2 bubbles, no doubt...some recipes just call for cold water so I guess the message is that the water must be cold!

best, Stephen

Ohh delicious! Great recipe... I've never tried cooking anything with tempura, so I'm hoping it works out!
Thanks for the post.

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