All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Ebi no umani / prawns in light soy sauce flavored broth

A typical ingredient for celebrations, the prawns are cooked in a form that suggests seniors with bent backs, implying a wish for longevity with this auspicious New Year's dish. The red color is also said to ward off evil spirits.


(Photos show three times the amount below)

10 prawns with heads and shells
2 tbsp sake
Pinch salt

For broth
300 cc dashi
5 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp sugar or brown sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp usukuchi soy sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 togarashi red chili pepper (whole or sliced)


Prepare prawns. Cut off whiskers, and devein.

To remove vein, insert a bamboo skewer in the second soft spot in the hard shell on the back, tilt to pick up vein, and slowly pull out. If vein tends to snap at the skewer, pull it downward (toward tail) and then upward (toward head).

Rinse, and drain.

Put one or two prawns on each bamboo skewer.


Bring plenty of water to boil, and add sake and salt.

Put prawns, and immediately remove from water when color changes.

Do not pile up prawns, as they would retain heat and continue cooking.


In a pot, put all ingredients for broth, and bring to boil.

Add prawns, cover, cook on medium or medium low heat for 1 minute (count to 60), remove from heat, and let cool.


When cool enough, remove skewers, transfer to a container, and refrigerate until day of serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

  • Be careful not to overcook, especially if you use a high efficiency thick-walled pot. If you do use a thick-walled pot, place on a cold surface to cool faster after removing from heat, or transfer prawns to another container. Cooking prawns too long makes their texture like rubber. 
  • If you buy frozen prawns, buy them rock-hard frozen and thaw at home for best results. This dish has a very light flavor, and the taste all depends on the quality of prawns.
  • Elderly people with severely bent backs used to be commonly seen when I was a kid. Osteoporosis, deficiencies of calcium and other minerals in their diet and many years of long days bent over in the fields are often cited as causes.

(Last updated: January 8, 2016)

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