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
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 Tonkatsu
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 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 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.