Ebi Katsu vs. Ebi Fry vs. Ebi Tempura (Ebiten)

As I wrote before, Katsu (カツ) is the generic term for Japanese cutlet dishes, and the representative variety is Tonkatsu, including Hire Katsu and Rosu Katsu.

While the Katsu using pork is Tonkatsu, we often collectively call the ones using seafood Fry (フライ) (also spelled Furai).

However, there is an exception called Ebi Katsu (海老カツ), which uses Ebi (エビ or 海老 meaning shrimp/prawn) as its main ingredient but differs from Ebi Fry.

Ebi Katsu vs. Ebi Fry vs. Ebi Tenpura

Assorted Tempura, including Ebi Assorted Tempura including Ebi

Speaking of Agemono (揚げ物) using prawns, I think Ebiten (海老天) or Ebi Tempura (海老天ぷら) is also well known to people abroad.

So here, I will explain the difference between the three types of Agemono, Ebi Katsu, Ebi Fry, and Ebi Tempura.

Ebi Katsu vs. Ebi Fry

Ebi Fry and TonkatsuEbi Fry and Tonkatsu Pork Cutlet

If you are a hamburger lover, you may have heard of Ebi Katsu Burger. Unlike Ebi Fry and Ebiten, Ebi Katsu can be the putty of hamburgers.

Ebi Katsu and Ebi Fry are usually different things (*). But Katsu and Fry are essentially the same cuisines, and those two dishes using Ebi only differ in the main ingredient.

While Ebi Fry consists of a shelled prawn battered, breaded with panko breadcrumbs, and deep-fried in oil,

Ebi Katsu SandwichEbi Katsu Sandwich

the inside of Ebi Katsu is surimi, minced shrimp/prawn paste, often combined with a fish cake called Hanpen (はんぺん).

* Some restaurants in Japan offer Ebi Fry under the name of Ebi Katsu.

Ebi Fry vs. Ebi Tempura 

Since Ebiten or Ebi Tempura also uses a shelled prawn as its main ingredient, it is close to Ebi Fry rather than Ebi Katsu.

And the difference between Ebi Fry and Ebi Tempura primarily comes from the difference between Fry (Katsu) and Tempura.

Ebi Katsu with Tartar SauceEbi Katsu with Tartar Sauce

While Katsu/Fry cuisine mainly features its crispy, brown deep-fried panko covering,

Tempura doesn’t use breadcrumbs. And its batter consists of wheat flour mixed with hen’s egg and cold water.

When eating, we commonly put Tartar sauce or Tonkatsu/Chuno sauce on Ebi Fry, whereas Tempura’s best match would be Tentsuyu sauce.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 海老カツ, カツ, 天ぷら )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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