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August 2, 2015

United States

New York—Shrimp Tempura, $200 a Plate



Japanese-food fanatics in New York City are used to spending big money on sushi.  Last month, Japanese chef Masao Matsui, 65, opened Tempura Matsui, the city’s first fine dining restaurant focusing on battered-and-fried seafood and vegetables.


The set menu is $200—there’s no a la carte option—and features about nine expertly prepared seasonal tempura dishes, from scallops to gingko nuts.


The initial tempura piece that diners get at the 19-seat restaurant is a delicate, perfectly crispy shrimp’s head, followed by the shrimp’s tail.  It’s the restaurant’s signature dish.


• The shrimp is flown in twice weekly from the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.  The shrimp’s tail is cut in such a way that it remains straight, not curled.


• The batter: It’s simply egg yolk, water and flour whisked together.  Matsui doesn’t measure anything, instead doing it all by feel.  Every ingredient must be cold to prevent the batter from becoming too thick.  He makes his batter thinner than some corner Japanese restaurants, so that the fried crust is especially light.  “I want people to enjoy the flavor of the ingredients,” he says.  “If the batter is thick, you won’t taste the sweetness of the shrimp.”


• Frying: The shrimp’s head and tail are fried in a shallow blend of sesame and cottonseed oils.  Some places just use sesame oil, but Matsui says, the light cottonseed oil “allows the flavor of fresher fish to come through.”


While the shrimp is frying, he keeps it moving, prodding the shellfish with cooking chopsticks.  “You have to make the fish dance in the oil,” he says.  “It makes it look and taste better.”


Source: New York Post.  Why This Fried Shrimp Costs $200.  Hailey Eber.  Photo: Brian Zak.  August 1, 2015.

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