Spruce up Naples snack food with shirasu and shrimp

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shirasu baby sardine zeppolini

It’s nice to relax and enjoy a drink on long winter evenings. Italian chef Sadamu Tabata introduces shirasu baby sardine zeppolini, a deep-fried bread with seaweed, as a dish that goes well with your favorite libation.

Zeppolini is a local dish of the port city of Naples. Flour is mixed with dry yeast and aonori dried seaweed, and the fermented dough is rounded into dumplings and deep-fried.

“Seaweed is rarely used in Italian cuisine,” Tabata said. “To give this dish a robust flavor, I added shirasu and dried shrimp. It’s perfect to snack on with a drink.”

The key to making the dough is to ferment it thoroughly. Usually, flour, dry yeast, granulated sugar and salt are combined in a bowl, and lukewarm water and olive oil are added. For this dish, however, before combining the dry yeast with the all-purpose flour, thoroughly dissolve the yeast in warm water in a separate bowl so that it mixes evenly and the yeast is activated. Then add it to the dough and mix to promote fermentation.

Be sure to lightly mix the aosa sea lettuce, shirasu and dried shrimp with the dough. Do not overmix, because doing so causes the shrimp and other ingredients to fall apart and the flavors will become indistinct. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature (about 22 C).

Fermentation is more likely to progress at higher temperatures, so it is necessary to adjust it to the season by leaving the dough at room temperature for a shorter time in summer and longer in winter.

Over the course of an hour, the dough expands about 1.5 times its original size, and it firms up with small bubbles on the surface. The bubbles create a light texture after deep-frying.

To prevent pieces of dough from sticking together when deep-frying, dip a spoon into olive oil, scoop some dough, and then deep-fry. When the batter is slightly browned and the bubbles in the oil are small, the zeppolini is done.

Freshly cooked zeppolini is crispy on the outside, and the smell of the ocean from the sea lettuce arouses the nose’s senses.

The inside is soft and doughy, and the flavor of the shirasu and shrimp is delicious. Pairing this dish with a glass of beer or sparkling wine is perfection.

Shirasu baby sardine zeppolini

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • 150g all-purpose flour
  • 3g dry yeast
  • 2g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 10g dried aosa sea lettuce
  • 15g shirasu whitebait
  • 15g dried shrimp
  • oil for deep-frying
  • 2g salt


1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.

2. Put the dry yeast and granulated sugar in a second bowl, and dissolve with 200 milliliters of lukewarm water. Add the olive oil and mix.

3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour little by little and mix thoroughly with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Reconstitute the sea lettuce in 30 milliliters of water. Add the sea lettuce, shirasu and dried shrimp, and mix lightly with a spatula.

4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature (about 22 C) for about one hour.

5. When the dough has expanded about 1.5 times its original size, dip a spoon into the olive oil and then scoop and form dumplings 2-3 centimeters in diameter. Place in oil at 180 C and deep-fry the dumplings, turning them frequently with chopsticks. Drain the oil with paper towels. Arrange the dumplings in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Salty crackers

Crackers made with sea lettuce and parmesan cheese are also easy to make.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Crackers with aosa sea lettuce and parmesan cheese


6g dried aosa sea lettuce

65g parmesan cheese powder

6g cornstarch


Mix the dried sea lettuce, parmesan cheese and cornstarch, and heat in a nonstick frying pan so the mixture does not burn. When the cheese is melted and brown on the bottom, flip and brown the other side.

The rich cheese and the saltiness of the sea lettuce are a wonderful match.