These Sweet Chili Shrimp Tempura Boats are fun and delicious! A playful appetizer that hits both sweet and spicy notes. Oh, and that crunch!!
Sweet Chili Shrimp
I have loved sweet tasting shrimp dishes for a while now.
Dishes like coconut shrimp, mango shrimp, sweet and sour shrimp, sweet teriyaki shrimp and of course sweet chili shrimp! Wow…I sound like Bubba from Forest Gump! Lol!
Sweet chili sauce is especially popular in Japanese recipes.
In this recipe, I chose to use a store-bought sweet chili sauce.
Some store-bought items I don’t go near…but most of the sweet chili sauces they sell are delicious and a huge time saver especially when you’re expecting guests.
Not too spicy with just the right amount of sweetness, it’s great not only on shrimp but chicken and veggies too!
If you like your food HOT, just add some Sriracha to the sauce before tossing in the shrimp!
Also, don’t leave out the chives! They add a slight onion flavor which is needed.
Balancing The Bitterness
Endive leaves are great vessels for serving a lot of things! They are slightly bitter and offer a great crunch!
I actually never heard of them until 5 years ago when I was at my absolute favorite restaurant, Morimoto. The dish was similarly prepared…an endive leaf with shrimp tempura…but instead of coating the shrimp in a sweet chili sauce, it was more of a spicy mayo sauce. SO delicious!
It wasn’t until then that I discovered how bitter endives are! Kinda similar to arugula.
Over time, I have learned that an acidic component is needed to balance out the bitterness of a dish.
This must be why I did not mind it at all! I actually liked the bitterness paired with the sauce.
So I knew right then and there I wanted to try and recreate the dish!
Since most if not all sweet chili sauces have an acidic component, like vinegar, in them, I thought it would be a good complement to the bitter endive.
If you simply don’t like endive or you can’t find endive heads, you can substitute with one of these:
- Bibb lettuce
- Boston lettuce
- Small romaine head** (I recommend these! They are cheaper and sturdy!)
All of these are very easy to find and neither bitter!
Whatever you decide to choose as your “vessel” I promise your guests will enjoy them!
Keep in mind, you can always just serve the shrimp by itself with mini toothpicks! Delish!
So here’s what I did…
If you make these, comment below and let me know how you ended up serving them and how they came out!
These Sweet Chili Shrimp Tempura Boats are fun and delicious! A playful appetizer that hits both sweet and spicy notes. Oh, and that crunch!
- 1 Cup Peeled and Cleaned Shrimp (about 1 lb.)
- 2 Small Endive Heads (or romaine heads)
- 2 Cups Prepared Tempura Batter* (the boxed mix is great)
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Chives
- 3 Cups Vegetable Oil (about 2" deep)
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 1/2 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce* (store-bought)
- 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
Mix sweet chili sauce, soy sauce and chives in large bowl and set aside. (You'll be tossing the shrimp into this bowl later)
Heat oil to 350 degrees F in wok or small sauce pan. You may need more or less oil depending upon the size and depth of your pan.
While heating, chop shrimp in halves or thirds (depending upon their size) and season with salt and pepper.
In large bowl, prepare tempura batter according to its directions. (You will be using about 2 cups of the dry batter). Keep in mind, the thicker the batter, the thicker/crunchier the result.
Toss chopped shrimp in tempura batter and then gradually drop shrimp (one at a time) into the hot oil. If you add multiple at once, they will stick together! Do not over crowd the pan!! Take you time.
After a minute or two, the shrimp should turn a nice golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels or rack. Repeat until all shrimp are fried. (This should take no more than 10 min.)
Once all of the shrimp is fried, add to the sweet chili sauce and toss to coat.
Chop off endive stem and peel apart leaves. Rinse off and dry them.
Spread leaves onto a serving platter and spoon the shrimp until each "boat" is full.
Sprinkle with more chives and serve!
*You can find the boxed tempura batter and sweet chili sauce in the Asian food aisle of your local food store.
-If for some reason you cannot get past the bitter flavor, you can substitute with one of these:
- Bibb lettuce
- Boston lettuce
- Small romaine leaves* (recommended)
-You can add a little extra sauce under each endive boats when you serve them to help hold them up.
-You can choose to serve the endive boats separately with the shrimp on the side. Serve in a small bowl with a spoon and allow guests to fill the boats themselves!
-Make extra sauce on the side if you need!
-These are best when served warm so if you want to do the frying ahead of time, do it and set aside covered in foil. Then when guests arrive, warm up JUST the sauce and then toss in the pre-fried shrimp. The hot sauce will warm the shrimp!