If you ever have a chance to visit Japan, you should definitely make it a priority to visit the basements of the department stores. Sounds like a weird item to have on your must-visit list, but trust me, the department store basements are where it’s at! Take the escalator down in any department store and you’ll be in food heaven.
Everywhere you look your eyes will be bombarded with gorgeously styled food. Perfect bento boxes, glistening gozya, and, of course, sushi. There’s an amazing amount of sushi available and if you’ve got greedy eyes, like me, you’ll probably end up over buying. One of my all time favourite handheld snacks are tenmusu, or prawn tempura rice balls.
They sell the little rice triangles at room temperature, but you can get them hot too, if they happen to be making them. My version doesn’t shape the rice into a triangle or wrap it up entirely in seaweed, but the flavours are basically the same. There’s something to be said about good rice, a perfectly cooked piece of prawn tempura and salty seaweed.
These rice balls are excellent as a starter or, if you’re anything like me, just make up a bunch and make a meal out of it!
Prawn Rice Ball Recipe
yield: 8 prawn balls
- 8 large prawns, de-veined and shelled, tail left on
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
- oil for deep-frying
- cooked Japanese rice
roasted laver or seaweed
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep-sided pot until it reaches 350˚F. While the oil is heating, gently mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cold water into a batter. Do not over mix; lumps in your batter are just fine. Do not mix the batter early or let it sit, you want to mix it right before you fry your prawns.
When the oil is ready, dip your prawns one by one into the batter and gently drop into the hot oil. Fry in batches until golden brown. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
Make the rice balls with slightly wet hands. Shape 2 or so tablespoons of rice into a ball, like shaping a snowball. Place on top of a sheet of roasted laver, top with a prawn and enjoy immediately with soy for dipping.