Dried Shrimp Balls

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) dried shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon sesame tahini
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Tabasco, Sriracha, or other liquid chile sauce to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1 egg
  • Oil, for pan-frying
Directions
1. In a small bowl, soak the shrimp in hot water to cover for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in another bowl, blend the tahini, orange juice, salt, and chile sauce to taste; thin with a few drops of water to a dipping consistency.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Drain the shrimp and pound it to fine shreds in a mortar. This is easier to do in several batches; scoop out each batch into the bowl with the dry ingredients before grinding the next. Add the minced chiles and egg and stir just until well combined.
3. Fill a wok or small skillet with oil to a depth of about 1 inch. Heat until a pinch of the batter sizzles instantly on contact, then reduce the heat to low. Scoop up a teaspoon of the batter, smooth it into an oval with another teaspoon, and slide it into the hot oil. Continue forming and frying the balls without crowding, regulating the heat so they cook to golden brown in about a minute per side. Retrieve with a wire skimmer and drain on paper towels. Serve warm, with the tahini sauce for dipping.

Yield

Makes 18 servings

Good to know

Dried shrimp is one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods, but I am firmly in the former camp. As with sun-dried tomatoes and raisins, drying shrimp transforms them into a totally different ingredient from the fresh form. Here, they give their concentrated flavor to little fritter-like snacks that are mostly shrimp.

Which beer should I drink with this?

Pale lager or hefeweizen if serving several beers; otherwise follow the rest of the menu.

Notes

1. The only published recipe I have seen for a similar dish is in Diana Kennedy's first book, Cuisines of Mexico, and that has whole dried shrimp in a lot more batter. This is my attempt to re-create a version using ground shrimp that I was served some years ago in a private home in San Diego. The sauce is not especially Mexican, but I like the way it wraps around the flavor and texture of the shrimp balls without adding too much fat.

2. Good dried shrimp are easier to find in Asian markets than Mexican. Although they are dried, they don't keep indefinitely. Look for the ones that are relatively plump and orange rather than shriveled and tan, and store any left overs tightly sealed in a jar in the refrigerator.

The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook 

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

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