Salmon Head Tempura Recipe

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Salmon Head Tempura
A Canadian adaptation of Japanese tempura. It’s often to be offered at Japanese restaurants and served with a special sauce.

Salmon heads and trims are common to be sold at the markets here.  At Asian markets, I often see salmon heads on sale.

Special for this tempura, the Japanese restaurants in town don’t serve with tentsuyu (Japanese: てんつゆ/天汁), regular tempura dipping sauce.  Hence, I re-created the sauce at home and perfect match to the one that I used to have.  It is a mix of miso, ginger, mirin, ground sesame seed, garlic, soy sauce and sugar. In this case I substituted for honey.

I figured out why they serve with this special sauce.  By dipping pieces of salmon heads tempura into the sauce, it reduces the odour of the salmon itself.   In this recipe, I specifically had to marinate them with minced gingers and garlics before dipping into tempura batter.

Finally, I found the perfect composition to what I tasted for the sauce. The batter’s recipe was adapted from Marc of No Recipes.

Salmon Heads Tempura

2 salmon heads, halved of each head
minced garlic and gingers for marinating

Tempura Batter:
1 large egg white
1 cup ice cold water + 2 ice cubes
1 cup sifted unbleached flour put in freezer
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Dipping Sauce:
2 tbsp aka miso (red miso)
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp ground sesame seed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced ginger

Prepare the Salmon Heads:
1. Rinse off halved salmon heads under cold running water. Rub minced garlic and gingers on, marinate for 20 minutes and keep them in the fridge.

2. Rinse them off once more and pat dry.

1. Get a wire rack ready for the tempura by covering it with a layer of brown paper bag.

2. In a heavy bottomed pan, add about 3 cm of oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 340 F then quickly make the batter. For the batter, you want to whisk the egg yolk into 1 cup of ice cold water then dump it all into the cold flour then gently stir. The key here is that everything is very cold and that you don’t stir it too much (having lumps is fine). The batter should be like thin pancake batter, if it’s too thick, add a few more tablespoons of ice water.

3. Use a fork, quickly dip each halved salmon head in the batter shaking off the excess and carefully drop into the hot oil.

Dipping Sauce:
Combine everything.

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About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg Edmonton, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.