As families get together for the Chinese new year, the table is filled with numerous dishes with auspicious symbolisms. It is considered lucky to eat round shaped food to symbolize unity. Shrimps and prawns symbolize happiness and good fortune. Thousand corner shrimp balls, considered a lucky food, is one of the dishes that are commonly served.
Chinese food is very textural. A lot of ingredients are put in for their texture rather than taste. Techniques are used to alter the texture of some ingredients. Have you noticed how a lot of dumplings have a bouncy texture? I just love that and have tried to recreate it at home with no success. Apparently the mixture has to be picked up and thrown against the mixing bowl repeatedly to develop a bouncy texture. With fish pastes and prawn pastes, they are pounded together to develop the stickiness and bounce.
I have neither the know how nor skill to do these things so I developed a shortcut method to give me a similar result with the minimum effort. I used an ingredient that already has "the bounce" in it: crab sticks. I use crab sticks a lot in cooking because it is inexpensive, readily available and has a lot of taste. Not all seafood are tasty but crab sticks have a consistent taste and texture. They also give that mottled look that's so pretty.
Instead of breadcrumbs, these seafood balls have a coating of miniscule croutons, hence called thousand corner. Making sure that the croutons are dry before using to coat the balls will result to maximum crunch. The contrasting texture of the seafood filling and the crunchy coating is just fantastic.
1 c. raw peeled prawns
8 crab sticks
1 tbsp. of finely chopped spring onions (white part only)
2 tbsps. corn flour
1 tsp. light soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
2 c. very dry mini croutons (see instructions below)
Put all of the ingredients, except for the croutons, in a food a processor and grind into a paste.
I used a stale baguette to make the croutons because I can slice it as thinly as I want to. It has to be a dense bread with small uniform holes. Slice the baguette then, take the crusts off. Finely dice. Leave to dry or dry in a cool oven for a few minutes.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the prawn and crab stick mixture into the croutons. I used a measuring spoon and a spatula to make the balls. The mixture is pretty sticky but if you use the spoon to scoop it out and run the spatula around the edge of the spoon, it drops into a sort of spherical shape. Cover with croutons and roll into shape. You won't even get your hands dirty if you do this.
Heat up some cooking oil in a wok. Fry the balls for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Turn them around constantly so you don't scorch the bread coating. They are done when puffed up and golden brown in colour. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with sweet chilli sauce.
This recipe makes approximately 12 balls.
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