Monday, August 15, 2011

Obsessed with Shrimp balls!

Recently, my daughter and I attended a wedding with a difference.
It was very small and intimate, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house. It had taken place at Jaffa at the Oval. The food (in my opinion) was truly delicious and though I didn’t put many things on my plate, I fell in love with the Grouper en Croute, Chicken Cacciatore and a true favourite of mine, a savoury pineapple chow.

However, I was particularly fascinated with one of the hors d'oeuvres served before dinner. It looked simple and unassuming enough, sitting there with its plastic sword skewer. When I picked one up and dipped it in the silver bowl of ruby and amber coloured dip and took it to my lips, the flavour combo woke up every taste bud in my mouth. They were shrimp balls, paired with a sweet, hot dipping sauce (that I learned later was a type of chilli paste). Even as I met with Chef Joe Brown afterward to thank him for his lovely spread, I neglected to ask about the recipe, but all was not lost. I think my daughter and I had sampled enough for our foodie brains to figure out what went into them.

After scribbling down some of my own notes and making sure I had what I needed in my fridge and food bins, I was ready to experiment with making my own shrimp balls. Let the games begin!

First, I got about 40 raw shrimp that needed to be cleaned, peeled and de-veined. I wish I could have photographed the step by step, but with hands in wet shrimp, it was next to impossible to wield my trusty camera. So, here’s the before and after.

Next, I opened up a small can of pink salmon and added a little apple cider vinegar to it.

I cut some seasonings (onion, chadon beni, parsley and thyme) and put them in the food processor, followed by the shrimp and the salmon. Everything was pulsed to a nice paste.

Next up were an egg white, 5 tablespoons of cornstarch, a teaspoon each of sugar and salt, a tablespoon of grated ginger, some onion powder and a couple tablespoons of cooking wine. Unfortunately, I hadn’t any garlic or garlic powder in the house – that’s why the onion powder came to the party.
(Of course, we couldn’t forget the ‘magic touch’!)

Everything was blended together well; and now, on to some frying action!

Got my medium saucepan and poured about 4 cups of oil into it for some deep frying. I carefully dropped heaping teaspoon sized balls into the hot oil, where they sank to the bottom at first, then happily floated upwards. I kept them moving with my spoon and turned them over from time to time so they cooked evenly (about 2 minutes). When they got to a nice golden brown, I pulled them out, and began another batch.

However, I noticed that as they cooled, they shrank a bit, but that was to be expected; this mix doesn’t have flour or baking powder in it. Still, they looked delicious, and I was done in no time!

Here you go; Halcie’s Shrimp (and Salmon) balls!

Gave myself a lovely reward!

And that was that. My shrimp obsession was satisfied, at least for the time being. The smell alone brought out the rest of the household and these shrimp balls were eaten for lunch, snacked on and… well, let’s just say I have to wait until my next grocery shopping day to get myself some more shrimp. The best part was that taste wise, they were at least 89 per cent close to the ones I had at Jaffa at the Oval, but I’ve promised myself to continue my shrimp experiment over time, possibly trying out ones with baking powder and even try making an oven baked version as well.

So, thus ends my latest adventure and I look forward sharing more of my cooking experiments with you. In the meantime, take care and like I always say… don’t forget to mind the pot!


  1. Liking the new look Halcie and the jam, oh my the jam...where did you say you lived again?

  2. Wizzy girl, you are making me blush. Thanks so much for the love, my friend.
    *whispers* I'm in St James by the way, lol. :-D

  3. I wonder just how close your recipe was to Chef Joe's. Maybe he could learn a thing or two from you!

  4. Hahahahaa! Thank you Amateur Cook, lol! It was really, really close. I just need to tweak it some more so they stay nice and puffed when they come out the pan next time. ;-)