When it comes to demystifying Chinese cooking, my friend Katie Chin, daughter of restaurateur Leeann Chin, knows what it takes to bring tasty recipes into American homes. As a chef, cookbook author and television personality, Katie believes in spreading the word about how truly delicious Chinese cuisine can be, starting with sharing culinary traditions with her 8-year-old twins.
“Chinese New Year is coming up on January 28,” she reminds me. “Firecracker shrimp is a tasty and whimsical appetizer to kick off the celebration in our home in Southern California. My sous-chef kids mix the dipping sauce and roll up the ‘firecrackers,’ revealing shrimp tails and carrot strips for ‘fuses.’ As we prep, I’ll tell them about their grandmother’s memories of growing up in China, and how firecrackers (believed to ward off evil spirits) lit up the sky on New Year’s Day.”
Roll up her firecracker shrimp for an appetizer that explodes with flavor in every bite. Adapted from her new cookbook “Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen.”
I enjoyed an afternoon in the kitchen of Katie’s sister Laura with Katie’s fabulous twins, 8 year old Becca and Dylan. Here are some in-step photos of our cooking adventure along with the complete recipe.
The first step in preparation was taking the thin spring roll wrappers out of the package and separating them—a fun job for kids to do.
Cut the wrappers into thirds with kitchen scissors to make 12 long strips, then lightly brush the ends with beaten egg.
Becca and Dylan showed me how to lay the carrot sticks and shrimp tails just so on the spring roll wrappers to resemble firecrackers when they are fried.
Be sure the ingredients are dry to prevent spattering while frying. She places 4 or 5 at a time in the wok and turns them frequently. It only takes 2-3 minutes per batch.
The kids were in charge of stirring up the tasty dipping sauce while Katie fried the shrimp.
And I got to enjoy eating the tasty, hot appetizer! I’m crazy about them, and so is my family! They’re fabulous for a special occasion like Chinese New Year, birthdays, and definitely 4th of July!
FIRECRACKER SHRIMP and DIPPING SAUCE
Serves 6 as an appetizer.
1 large carrot, cut into 3-inch-by-1/4-inch matchsticks
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, divided
12 shelled and deveined large, raw shrimp (tails left intact)
4 spring roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Place carrot slices in a small bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining garlic salt. Set aside.
Cut each spring roll wrapper into thirds to make 12 long strips.
Brush the top third of each strip with egg. Lay one shrimp at the bottom of the strip. Set a carrot slice on top of the shrimp. Tightly roll, letting the egg seal it together at the end. (The tail of the shrimp and the carrot should protrude from one end to resemble a firecracker) Repeat with remaining wrappers.
In a large wok or deep skillet, heat 2-3 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Fry the shrimp rolls 5 or 6 at a time until golden brown, about 2 minutes, turning 2 to 3 times. Transfer to a cooling rack lined with paper towels.
Serve hot, with dipping sauce.
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and Sriracha together.
Cook’s note: Find spring roll wrappers in the freezer section of Asian markets. You may substitute with egg roll wrappers from the produce section of grocery stores.
RESOURCES: “Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen” (Tuttle Publishing) and www.chefkatiechin.com.
AND, THERE IS MORE…
Katie has boundless, creative energy. Within minutes of preparing the firecracker shrimp, she was stirring up her Pineapple Fried Rice recipe from her new cookbook for a demo she was off to at KSTP-ABC’s Twin Cities Live studio. (see her segment: http://twincitieslive.com/article/stories/s4229844.shtml) It’s a heart healthy, easy meal to prepare. Serve it in pineapple halves to make it look refreshing…and impressive!