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Nagaimo Mountain Yam, Sakura-Ebi Dried Shrimp Make Crispy Kakiage Tempura

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kakiage tempura of nagaimo mountain yam and sakura-ebi dried shrimp.

Cooking expert Shimpei Kurihara has shared his recipe for kakiage tempura, using nagaimo mountain yam and sakura-ebi dried shrimp. The seasonal yam and shrimp give this dish a wonderful texture.

Nagaimo mountain yam is crisp when eaten raw but becomes dense or floury when cooked. You can enjoy both textures when it’s thickly cut and deep-fried.

Kurihara made kakiage tempura by mixing the yam with sakura-ebi, dried shrimp with a crunchy texture and savory flavor.

“With kakiage, you can enjoy condensed flavors of ingredients. The crispy texture also makes it perfectly suited to have with beer,” Kurihara said.

Since the yam is thickly cut, the kakiage tastes even better when dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce instead of a tempura dipping sauce. The dish not only goes well with alcoholic beverages but also becomes a perfect dish for dinner that will have you coming back for more.

There are a few tips that can help you make great kakiage. First, to prevent it from falling apart in the oil, mix the ingredients and tempura flour together before adding water, rather than making the batter first and then mixing it with the ingredients. “That will stick the tempura flour to the moist surface of the vegetables, making them easier to hold together,” Kurihara said.

Use a wooden spatula when putting the ingredients into the oil. Place a small amount of the mixture on the spatula first. Then, slide the mixture into the oil using the spatula as if lightly pressing them down.

Leave them in the oil for a while and turn them upside down with chopsticks after about two minutes, when they become farm. Remove them from the oil after four minutes in total. “You don’t have to worry too much about the time for deep-frying since the yams can be eaten raw. The kakiage will retain their raw texture if they are removed from the oil when they become lightly colored,” Kurihara said.

Since it’s covered with a thin layer of batter, the kakiage holds together.

When I bit into a piece, I enjoyed the crisp texture of the batter and then the dense texture of the yam. The Sakura-ebi also released a sweet and fragrant aroma. The kakiage went perfectly with the sweet and spicy sauce and made me want a beer.

Sauteed yam with grated yam

Kurihara also prepared a simple dish using nagaimo mountain yam, both cut and grated together.

Heat one tablespoon of salad oil in a frying pan, add 100 grams of yam cut into 2-centimeter cubes. Cook them over medium-high heat. Add ½ tablespoon each of soy sauce and sake and cook for a while. Place them on a plate. Grate 120 grams of yam and mix with 2 tablespoons of bonito broth, 1 teaspoon each of light soy sauce and vinegar. Pour over the sauteed yam and sprinkle with aonori seaweed flakes.

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Kakiage tempura of nagaimo mountain yam and sakura-ebi dried shrimp

Ingredients (3-4 servings):

  • 250 grams nagaimo mountain yam
  • 10 sakura-ebi dried shrimps
  • 20 grams green spring onion
  • 3 tbsp tempura flour
  • 50 cc bonito broth
  • 1½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Cooking oil

  • Directions:

    1. Peel nagaimo mountain yam and cut into 7-millimeter-thick slices, 5 centimeters long. Cut green spring onion into 7-8-millimeter-wide pieces.

    2. Put the yam, long green onion and dried shrimp in a bowl and sprinkle with tempura flour. Add 3 tablespoons of water and mix until sticky.

    3. Heat oil to 180 C. Place a small amount of the mixture on a wooden spatula and slide the mixture off the spatula into the oil.

    4. When it becomes crisp, remove the mixture from the pan and drain off the oil. Place the mixture together on a cooling rack on a plate.

    5. Place bonito broth, 1½ tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon each of sake and mirin and 2 teaspoons of sugar into a small saucepan and cook them over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Boil for one to two minutes. Serve on a plate.