Crisp Vietnamese Shrimp Fingers with Fresh Herbs

Crisp Vietnamese Shrimp Fingers with Fresh Herbs

shrimp fingers

From December 31, 2005:  These are sooooo amazing (and addictive)!  They are so worth the time it takes to prepare them.  To ensure success in making these shrimp rolls, make sure to use the small wonton wrappers (not the bigger ones meant for eggrolls).  Also make sure to finely chop the water chestnuts (I usually skip the blanching step….laziness) so they don’t clog the pastry bag or plastic bag during piping.  If you can’t find Thai basil, use sweet basil instead.  Sometimes I add a little hot water to the Nuoc Cham to extend it some and to also diffuse the fish sauce flavor a bit (which I love), especially if I’m serving this to people who aren’t used to the strong flavors.

Crisp Vietnamese Shrimp Fingers with Fresh Herbs

2/3 pound raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1/2 cup canned whole water chestnuts, blanched in boiling water for 10 seconds, refreshed under cold running water, drained, blotted dry and chopped

For the seasonings:
1 1/2 T. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 T. minced scallion whites
1 1/2 T. rice wine or sake
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 T. cornstarch

To form and fry the rolls:
25 wonton skins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 cups oil

To serve:
2 heads Boston lettuce, cored, trimmed, leaves separated, pressed to flatten, rinsed, drained, and arranged in a basket or a bowl
Vietnamese nuoc cham for dipping (recipe follows)
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, cut into fine shreds and placed in a small bowl

Place the shrimp in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process into a paste.  Transfer to a large bowl, add the water chestnuts and seasoning, and stir vigorously in one direction until the mixture forms a stiff paste.  Refrigerate, if possible, for 2 hours so the the mixture becomes firm.

Fill a pastry bag without a tip with the shrimp mixture.  You could also use a plastic storage bag with a corner snipped off.  Spread out the wonton wrappers on a counter.  Pipe a strip of the shrimp paste 1/4 inch from the edge, running from top to bottom, of one wrapper.  Using your finger or a brush, spread a little beaten egg along the opposite edge.  Roll over the skin to enclose the shrimp paste and continue rolling to form a cylinder.  Press lightly to seal the seam.  Don’t roll to tightly, or the skin will split while frying.  Repeat with the remaining filling and skins.

Heat a wok or a large heavy skillet over high heat until very hot.  Add the oil and heat to 375 degrees F.  Deep fry the shrimp rolls in batches without crowding, turning constantly, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove with a handled strainer or slotted spoon and drain briefly in a colander, then transfer to paper towels.

Arrange the rolls on a serving platter and serve with the dipping sauce.  To eat, sprinkle some basil on a lettuce leaf, roll up a shrimp finger in the lettuce, and eat with your fingers.

The rolls can be reheated in a pre-heated oven 375 degree F. oven until crisp and piping hot, about 10 minutes.

Nuoc Cham

1 tsp. crushed red pepper
juice of 3 limes or 2 lemons
1 T. minced garlic
3 T. sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 T. grated carrots

Soak the crushed red pepper in the citrus juice for several minutes.  Add the garlic, sugar, and fish sauce an stir to dissolve the sugar.

Transfer to a serving container, add the grated carrots, and serve at room temperature.  Refrigerated, the sauce will keep in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.

Recipe source:  Asian Wraps by Nina Simonds (William Morrow, 2000)

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