For November’s POM Wonderful Blog Post, I made shrimp tempura with a POM pomegranate juice wasabi sauce. I wanted to fuse a little Japanese techniques with Floridian and even a little French and see how everything turned out. I knew the pomegrante base for the sauce would work well with ginger and garlic and lemon zest; pomegranate juice is bold enough to take on the flavors without overwhelming or being overwhelmed. Wasabi also goes well in sauces with sweet notes, especially Japanese plum and citrus sauces.
Even though it’s almost winter, and heavy meat braises with roots are coming into their time, it’s still warm here in Florida, so I wanted something a little lighter. I shelled some local Florida shrimp and made a tempura batter, lightly frying them in vegetable oil.
This could either be an appetizer or a main course, depending on how many shrimp are made. Christey and I couldn’t imagine moving on to anything else after this, so between us we devoured over a pound of shrimp.
The French have their mirepoix, and many Asian sauces start out with a saute of grated ginger, minced garlic, and chopped scallion. To give a slight Continental edge to the sauce, I used shallots instead of scallion.
I heated a pan, added some olive oil, and sweated the ginger, garlic, and shallot until starting to brown.
From there, I added 1/4 cup soy sauce and 3/4 cups POM 100% pomegranate juice, and lowered the heat to a simmer.
I took some zest off of a lemon to soak in the sauce for a bit, and reserved a few pinches to toss on at the end for a decorative garnish.
For the tempura batter, I separated an egg, then added a cup of flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 cup ice-cold sparkling water (I used San Pellegrino) and some kosher salt.
I left the last tail segment shells on my shrimp, because I think it gives a nice handle to eat with. Some like to pop the whole shrimp in their mouth, so this is purely optional — remove it if you like.
The batter is thick enough that the shrimp just need to be dunked in. Once battered, they go in pre-heated 375F degree oil and cook for maybe 4-5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. The shrimp should be floating, the batter will turn golden, and the shrimp should look pink under the batter.
When the shrimp are done, I took 1/2 tbsp of corn starch, added it to about 1/4 cup cold water, and mixed it into a slurry. I added half the slurry to the sauce and brought it up to a high simmer and checked for thickness. If it needs to be thicker (think sweet and sour sauce), then more of the slurry can be added.
Once the thickness was ready, I turned the heat off, then added a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of wasabi paste.
I strained the sauce and put it in a bowl on a plate with the shrimp, garnishing it with some of the reserved lemon rind.
Pomegranate Wasabi Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated or chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice
1/2 tbsp lemon zest (divided)
1 tsp wasabi paste (more or less to taste)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
kosher salt to adjust
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup cold sparkling water
kosher salt to taste
Fresh shrimp — peeled and deveined. Tail shell may be left on or removed.
Deconstruction: We worked our way through this pretty quickly, it was tasty. The wasabi did work well with the fruitiness of the sauce without giving that nose-bomb announcement of its presence. It was surprisingly subtle.
There are a bunch of variations to this recipe — the sauce could have been poured over the shrimp, or used as a dipping sauce like we did. Vegetarians could substitute squash and other vegetables for shrimp. Vegans could substitute an yolk’s worth of vegetable oil and dijon mustard for the egg yolk (for the fat and lecithin).