Ebi fry (ebi furai in Japanese) aka panko shrimp is a beloved dish in Japan.
Ebi fry is often served in bento or with teishoku meal sets. It’s a favorite of children and adults alike. So much so that there is a character much like Hello Kitty but a deep fried shrimp called Ebi Fry no Shippo. Panko shrimp is delicious and cute! That extra crispy crunchy crust coating plump and juicy shrimp is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Ebi fry might be my ultimate fried shrimp. I love the delicate flavor and texture of shrimp tempura but there’s something about that thick and crunchy bread coat that really does it for me. I guess I’m just the kind of person who loves deep fried foods like chicken strips and fries. Whenever I see ebi shrimp on the menu, I have to get it. It’s the perfect textural counter point to fluffy white rice and it’s AMAZING with Japanese curry rice. I love eating it on its own too, with kewpie mayo, Japanese tartar sauce or even Japanese egg salad.
What is Ebi Fry/Panko shrimp
Ebi fry (エビフライ) aka panko shrimp is shrimp that has been coated in flour, egg, then panko, and then deep fried. It’s a crispy breaded shrimp that is a super popular main dish served with rice or bento component. It’s similar to katsu, but shrimp.
How to make panko shrimp
- Clean. Peel the shells off the shrimp, devein, and clean the tails. More on that below.
- Straighten. Gently cut about a quarter of the way through the belly of the shrimp and push down to flatten it out so it fries up nice and straight.
- Bread. Dip the shrimp into flour, egg, panko, then again into the flour, egg, and panko so you get a double coating.
- Deep fry. Add the coated shrimp to hot oil and cook, flipping as needed until crispy and golden brown.
- Enjoy. Enjoy as is, dipped in sauce, or as part of a rice plate or bento!
How to clean shrimp
- Peel the shell off, leaving the tail attached.
- Devein the shrimp by carefully slicing through with a small sharp knife to the vein and removing.
- Cut the tail of the shrimp on a diagonal.
- Squish out any water left in the tail with the edge of the knife.
How to straighten shrimp
On the bottom side of the shrimp (it’s belly) lightly score three to four times, at even intervals.
Turn the shrimp so it’s belly down and press the shrimp onto your cutting board, flattening it out into a long, straight line.
Panko shrimp ingredients
- shrimp – I like to use large shrimp, at lease 16-20 size. The larger size shrimp stay juicer and are more impressive when you serve them.
- flour – a little bit of flour helps the egg stick to the shrimp so you can get a nice even coat.
- egg – it’s what allows the panko to stick to the shrimp and gives you an extra crispy coat.
- panko – Japanese breadcrumbs that deep fry up to a delicious crispy coat. More on them below.
- oil – choose a neutral high heat oil like rice bran, canola, or grapeseed.
What is panko?
Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs. They’re vastly different from regular breadcrumbs – fluffier, larger, and made from crustless white bread. The irregular flakes of panko are what make katsu so crunchy. They’re dryer, flakier, and absorb less oil.
Panko is actually super interesting and a big deal in Japan. Dedicated panko factories bake bread to different panko specifications. You can get fresh panko, dried panko, and different sized flakes. They even have different ways of baking the bread, either oven baked or electrically baked using currents. A lot of restaurants get fresh panko delivered to them daily.
Where to buy panko
Panko is sold in most grocery stores in the Asian aisle but it’s cheaper to buy it at an Asian grocery store. You can also get it online. I prefer Japanese brands of panko, sometimes you’ll see something labeled panko but it looks like regular breadcrumbs. Take a look at the package and buy panko with large, irregular, shards that are flat. You can even make your own!
How to set up a panko breading station:
Just like how you bread chicken you need flour, egg, and panko.
- Set up three shallow dishes that are able to fit the shrimp.
- Put flour in one dish, lightly beaten egg in the next dish, and panko in the last dish.
- Dip the shrimp in the flour, coating all sides. Shake off the excess flour and place it in the egg.
- Use your other hand to turn the shrimp in the egg, making sure it’s coated all over.
- Shake off any excess egg and place the shrimp in the panko. Repeat the steps to double coat the shrimp, being sure to gently adhere the panko all over. Shake off the excess panko and you’re ready to cook!
How to deep fry panko shrimp
Heat up at least 2 inches of high heat oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat until it reaches 350°F or a pair of unchoated wooden chopsticks bubbles gently when you put them in the hot oil.
Carefully add the panko shrimp to the hot oil and cook, flipping occasionally until golden brown and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on a wire rack.
How to air fry panko shrimp
Before coating the shrimp in the panko, be sure to toast it to give it some color. Add the panko to a dry pan and toast over medium heat, stirring often. Drizzle on 1 tbsp neutral oil and stir until golden and toasty then remove from the pan immediately. Coat the shrimp as per below then air fry in an oiled air fryer basket at 360°F until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes, flipping half way.
How to bake panko shrimp
Before coating the shrimp in the panko, be sure to toast it to give it some color. Add the panko to a dry pan and toast over medium heat, stirring often. Drizzle on 1 tbsp neutral oil and stir until golden and toasty then remove from the pan immediately. Coat the shrimp as per below then bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a 425°F oven for 12 minutes.
Japanese tartar sauce
Japanese tartar sauce is a little different from the regular tartar sauce you’ve had because it has eggs in it! It has all the same tartar sauce ingredients you love like mayonnaise, pickles, and herbs, but it is extra rich because of the diced egg. To make Japanese tartar sauce, mix together 1/4 cup kewpie mayo, 2 finely diced hard boiled eggs, 2 tbsp finely diced pickle, 2 tbsp finely diced onion, finely chopped parsley, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
How to make a panko shrimp bento
Ebi fry teishoku or set meals are a super popular choice in Japan. You usually get 2 to giant plump shrimp, tartar sauce, rice, soup, salad, pickles, and some small side dishes. Think of it like a panko shrimp bento. They make me SO happy. I just love the crunchy of the shrimp and the creaminess of the tartare sauce and the rice and cabbage go so well with everything. Seriously so good. Do yourself a favor and make a panko shrimp bento! You’ll need:
- rice: a bowl of fluffy Japanese rice is the perfect accompaniment for crunchy, juicy shrimp.
- cabbage: thinly sliced cabbage is a must for panko fried things like panko shrimp, chicken katsu, or tonkatsu.
- cucumbers: some slices of cucumber to add some crunch and greenness.
- tomatoes: just a couple of cherry tomatoes for cuteness and a bit of sweet freshness.
- tartar sauce: see above for a Japanese take on tartar sauce. Sometimes I like to serve panko shrimp with Japanese egg salad as a condiment too.
- optional: Japanese pickles or small side dishes like miso soup, tamagoyaki, a couple of gyoza, or edamame.
This extra crispy plump and juicy shrimp is sure to bring a smile to your face.
- 12 prawns extra large preferred, see notes
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 2 cups panko
- 3 cups neutral oil high heat for deep frying, see notes
- 1 cabbage shredded
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup tartar sauce Japanese preferred, see notes
Peel the shell off the prawns, leaving the tail on. Devein and make three shallow cuts on the bottom of the prawn to straighten it out. Pat dry with paper towels then season generously with salt and pepper.
Dredge the prawns in flour, then egg, then back into flour, egg, and finally panko, pressing to adhere. Repeat the breading process so the shrimp are double coated.
Heat the oil to 350°F and when hot, add the prawns, 2-3 at a time and deep fry, 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping as needed. Drain on a wire rack.
Enjoy with cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, and Japanese tartar sauce.
High heat oils include refined peanut oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, and sunflower/safflower oils.
To make Japanese tartar sauce: combine 1/4 cup kewpie mayo, 2 finely diced hard boiled eggs, 2 tbsp finely diced pickle, 2 tbsp finely diced onion, finely chopped parsley, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 146
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 2.4g15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.