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Japanese Shrimp Balls Recipe

People ask me for Japanese food recipes that don’t rely upon hard-to-find Japanese ingredients. At first, it seems an impossible request. After all, it is the Japanese ingredient that makes a dish Japanese. But that isn’t always the case.

Here is a recipe for a Japanese favorite that uses common ingredients. No soy sauce, no panko. Just fresh raw shrimp, sliced fresh green beans, grated carrot and a few seasonings found in every American kitchen. The result is reminiscent of shrimp tempura with its lightly crisp exterior. The typical dipping sauce is tentsuyu made from bonito stock, soy sauce and mirin but going with the non-Japanese ingredient theme, you can dip the fritters into anything like seafood cocktail sauce, sweet and sour sauce or even horseradish sauce. I think that the original tentsuyu sauce enhances the fresh shrimp flavor without overpowering it as the other sauces mentioned tend to do. So I can up with another alternative for you.

Be sure to use fresh green beans and fresh carrot. Canned or frozen absolutely will not do! And our shrimp must be raw.

Shrimp Balls
1 lb. fresh, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 egg, beaten
½ cup grated fresh carrot
½ cup fresh green beans, sliced thinly
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup flour
1 tsp. Accent powder or ajinomoto, optional
vegetable oil for frying

Using knives or a food processor, mince the fresh, cleaned raw shrimp. Do not overprocess or the shrimp balls will be rubbery. Transfer the minced shrimp into a large mixing bowl. Fold in the grated carrot and sliced green beans. Mix in the egg. In a small bowl, blend together the flour, cornstarch, salt, ginger powder, onion powder, garlic powder and ajinomoto or Accent, if using. Stir into the shrimp mixture.

In a deep pot, wok or skillet with high sides, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Drop in heaping teaspoons of shrimp mixture into the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown, turning as necessary. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

Tentsuyu Dipping Sauce

1 cup dashi
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. mirin
grated daikon radish
In a small pot, blend together all ingredients except for daikon radish, and bring this to a simmer over low heat. Cool slightly and serve with tempura. Add grated daikon to taste.

Honey-Lemon Dipping Sauce
juice of ½ fresh lemon
1 Tbsp. honey or to taste
¼ cup warm chicken broth
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil, optional
Blend together all ingredients and serve as a dipping sauce with the shrimp balls.

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