TRADITIONAL JAPANESE RECIPE: Tenmusu (天むす), also spelled as ten-musu, is a dish that consists of a rice ball wrapped with nori that is filled with deep-fried tempura shrimp. Tenmusu is sometimes included as a food in bento boxes.
Tenmusu originated in the Mie prefecture region of Japan. In contemporary times, it is regarded as a specialty dish of Nagoya, located in the Chūbu region of Japan, and is a part of Nagoya cuisine.
Typical fillings are pickled plum (Umeboshi), dried bonito flakes with soy sauce (Okaka), or salted salmon. Tenmusu is something special, with Tempura shrimp and all.
Although Tenmusu is known as one of popular “Nagoya Foods” or Nagoya-meshi, we need to give the proper credit to a tempura restaurant called “Senju” (千寿) in Tsu city (located in Mie Prefecture in central Japan) for Tenmusu’s origin.
Back in 1930s, Mrs. Mizutani, the owner of the tempura set-meal restaurant (天ぷら定食店) was too busy to make lunch for her husband so she quickly made him rice balls with shrimp tempura. At that time she cut the shrimp tempura in half and stuffed the tempura inside so the rice balls didn’t show any part of tempura.
By 1950s, this dish was being served as an employee meal at the restaurant. As Mrs. Mizutani continued to improve her recipe, Tenmusu became a secret menu for patrons, then later became a formal menu item at Senju.
In 1980, a man called Mr. Fujimori closed his watch shop in Nagoya due to the economy recession. Mrs. Fujimori was thinking of a way to make money to help support the family and remembered the delicious Tenmusu she had at Senju when they went to the beach nearby.
Mrs. Fujimori went to the restaurant and asked Mrs. Mizutani to see if they can teach her Tenmusu recipe, but she quickly got rejected. She didn’t give up and continued to visit the restaurant frequently and even Mrs. Mizutani’s house for a month.
As a result of negotiation, Mrs. Mizutani finally gave in. Mrs. Fujimori got their Tenmusu recipe and permission to start a branch, and that’s how the first branch of Senju was born in Nagoya.
It wasn’t easy for Mrs. Fujimori in the beginning as no one knew what Tenmusu was. However, with the help of TV features and celebrities’ mentions of her Tenmusu, it became quite popular in Nagoya city. This food item then spread throughout Japan as “Nagoya’s speciality” (名古屋名物).
So what happened to Mrs. Mizutani’s tempura restaurant Senju in Tsu city? It became a Tenmusu specialized restaurant and this store has “Original” (Ganso 元祖) in front of the name. The small store has 8 counter bar seats where you can order Tenmusu and miso soup, but most customers come in for takeout (¥1040 for 8 pieces). And just like how Mrs. Mitzuani used to make them, the “original” Tenmusu don’t show the shrimp tempura.
These days you can easily find Tenmusu available throughout Japan, in convenience stores, bento shops or onigiri specialized shops. Other Tenmusu specialized shops such as Jiraiya (地雷也) has branches in Tokyo and Osaka.
If you don’t have plans to visit Japan, don’t worry, this is the traditional method!
|Skill Level:||Time: 2 Hours|
|Price:||Serves: 4 People|
01 - Cut the sheet of Roasted Seaweed into 4 strips.
02 - Cut the Shrimp Tempura in half if too big.
03 - Season Steamed Rice lightly with Salt.
04 - Start making the Rice ball ( check Onigiri method ), dip the Shrimp in Mentsuyu, and place it in the middle of rice. Shape Onigiri into a triangle, with the end of the shrimp peeking out of the top corner.
05 - Wrap with a strip of Roasted Seaweed.
- Warm Japanese Rice:
Use Japanese short-grain rice when you make rice balls; otherwise, your rice will not form into a ball. And always make rice balls with warm rice (“warm” but still cool enough that you can handle ).
- Size of Shrimp:
Depending on the size of shrimp you buy, you’ll need to adjust the rice ball size. If you use smaller shrimps than I did in this recipe, you’ll be making smaller rice balls to get the right balance between rice and shrimp tempura. If your shrimps are too big, you can cut them in half.
- Tempura Batter:
You can use the batter from my Shrimp Tempura recipe, but I made the egg-free tempura batter this time. Make sure to keep the consistency thicker similar to the ones for fritters. Thick batter absorbs more sauce; thus, tastier!
- Tempura Dipping Sauce:
The flavors of Tenmusu comes from Tempura sauce soaked by the shrimp tempura. If you have the tempura sauce handy already, use it. Otherwise, you can use a convenient bottle of Mentsuyu. Mentsuyu is a noodle soup base or multi-purpose sauce for noodles and seasoning).
- Nori ( Seaweed ):
Nori will be wilted ( not crispy ) after you wrap around the warm rice, and that’s how Tenmusu is served. If you prefer “crispy” nori texture, you can put nori on when you are ready to eat. You can save or pack nori strips in an airtight bag or wrap in a plastic wrap to enjoy later. I don’t have a problem with biting off the wilted nori, but I heard from some of you that that’s not your preference.
- Serve & Store at Room Temperature:
Rice balls are always served slightly warm or at room temperature. The cooked rice gets hard when you keep it in the cool/cold place (like a refrigerator). Therefore, we often keep rice balls at room temperature until you are ready to eat. That’s why it’s important to use salt when you make rice balls because salt helps preserve the food safely. However, on a hot and humid day when food gets spoiled fast, keep it in the refrigerator.
|Written by: Uncut Recipes||Disclaimer|