“We think this recipe from Nina Simonds, the Chinese cooking authority
longtime contributor to our pages, is one of the greatest hoes d’oeuvre
we’ve ever published. Thick of it as a fancy version of shrimp toast:
shrimp filling are rolled in little cubes of bread, then twice-fried
burnished golden brown. The faceted corners of the diced bread give
d’oeuvre an unusual and elegant shape. If the Museum of Modern
would be a gallery draw.”
20 slices very thin firm white sandwich bread,
cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup drained canned whole water chestnuts
18 ounces large shrimp in shells (21-25 per pound),
peeled and deveined
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped pork fat or lard
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or sake
1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons minced scallion
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
About 8 cups peanut oil or corn oil
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon crushed Sichuan
peppercorns, lighted toasted, or
1 teaspoon sansho (Japanese pepper) plus
freshly ground black pepper
Special Equipment: a deep-fat thermometer
Spread bread cubes in one layer on a baking sheet and let dry at
room temperature for at least 4 hours.
Blanch water chestnuts in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse
under cold water. Pat dry and finely chop.
Purée shrimp in food processor. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in
water chestnuts, egg white, pork fat, rice wine, ginger, scallion, salt, and
cornstarch. Beat shrimp mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon, throw-
it against the side of the bowl to combine well and compact it. Dip
in cold water and form a rounded teaspoon of mixture into a
then roll ball in bread cubes, pressing cubes in lightly. Place on a
sheet and make more shrimp balls in the same manner, arranging
layer on baking sheet.
Heat 2 inches oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat
until it registers 375 degrees F on thermometer. Fry shrimp balls in batches of
8, turning several times, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to
paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 375 degrees F between batches.)
Heat oil until it reaches 375 degrees F again. Fry shrimp balls again in 4
batches, turning frequently, until deep golden, about 1 minute per batch.
Transfer shrimp balls to fresh paper towels to drain.
Stir together kosher salt and peppercorns in a small bowl. Serve shrimp
balls with peppercorn mixture for dipping.
The bread dice can be left to dry for up to 12 hours.
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