3 large shrimp (16/20 count, fresh or defrosted), shelled and deveined, tails left on
2 Tbsp potato starch
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil, for frying
Make tiny cuts along the inside of each shrimp (opposite site to where the vein was) and gently pull the shrimp straight. This is an optional step, but it does make the shrimp look much bigger.
Pat the shrimps dry, and season with a little salt and pepper.
Put the potato starch in one plate, the beaten egg in a small bowl, and the panko bread crumbs on another plate. Have another plate ready, lined with a couple of paper towels.
Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a small frying pan over high heat. The oil is hot enough when a panko bread crumb dropped into it turns light brown right away.
Working rapidly, coat the shrimps in the cornstarch, dip in the egg,then roll in the bread crumbs. Try to do this with one hand, leaving the other hand clean to hold a pair of chopsticks or tongs to turn the shrimps. Gently put the shrimps one by one into the hot oil. Turn after a minute, and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute on the other side. The shrimps should feel firm when lightly tapped with the chopsticks.
As soon as each shrimp is cooked, remove from the oil and drain on the paper towels. When the last shrimp is removed from the oil, turn off the heat. If you’re using an electric range, take the pan off the still-hot heating element for safety.
Leave the shrimps to cool thoroughly before packing into a bento box.
Put the dipping sauce of your choice in the sauce cup, to tuck into a corner of the bento box. Tartar sauce, mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, ketchup, Japanese brown sauce (tonkatsu sauce), sweet chili sauce and ranch dressing all go well with fried shrimps.
Ahead of time note: Bread the shrimps and freeze in a single layer, ideally on a metal baking sheet. Once the shrimps are frozen stiff, pack them in freezer bags or containers. Frozen breaded shrimps should be cooked for 2-3 minutes longer than fresh.