Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pan Fried Pea Shoots and Shrimp Rolls


Blanched pea shoots, shrimp fried with a little garlic, wrapped in a simple crepe and pan fried make a wonderful start to a meal celebrating the lunar new year.  In a meal where there are going to be numerous dishes, some of which need to be prepared at the last minute, this is a dish that can be pretty much assembled ahead of time and pan fried shortly before serving.  It's a light appetizer, a celebration of the coming spring and year ahead.  


This is another recipe from Ellen Blonder's marvelous Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch.  It's a delightfully simple dish that would be at home with whatever food you choose to serve it with.  Vegetarians might substitute mushrooms or carrots for the shrimp.  As the rolls are sliced after they are fried, this is a much less time consuming dim sum dish for a number of people than individual dumplings.  

Blonder's recipe calls for fewer shrimp than I include.  Although I almost double the amount of shrimp she calls for, I don't increase the garlic or other seasonings.  As a starter for the New Year's meal, the dish should be bright and not overly assertive.  

Pan Fried Pea Shoots and Shrimp Rolls

2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup (95 g) sifted all-purpose flour
1 TBS peanut oil, plus more for oiling pan
1 TBS flour mixed with 1 TBS water for sealing the rolls

8 oz (227 g) pea shoots, rinsed and drained
6 to 8 oz shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 TBS peanut oil, divided
1 tsp soy sauce
pinch of salt
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

First, make the crepes.  In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and water.  Whisk in the flour and the tablespoon of oil.  Mix well, but don't worry if you still have some small lumps.  Cover and let the batter stand for 20 minutes or so.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.  Add a teaspoon of oil and wipe the pan with a paper towel to thoroughly coat the surface.  Pour in just enough batter to thinly cover the surface, tilting the pan as you pour in the batter.  Cook just until the edges begin to dry.  Flip and cook for ten seconds more.  Remove to a plate.  Continue until all the batter is used.  Once all the crepes have been cooked, plated and cooled, you may wrap in plastic and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

In a large pot bring 3 quarts of water and a teaspoon of salt to a boil.  Add the pea shoots and blanch for 2 minutes.  You want them to have some crunch but not be too chewy.  Drain the pea shoots in a colander, and rinse them under cold water.  Drain thoroughly, then squeeze dry in paper towels, trying to get rid of any excess water.  Once dried, roughly chop them.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of the peanut oil.  When the oil is shimmering, add the garlic, lower the heat, and stir-fry briefly until the garlic is softened and fragrant.  Do not brown the garlic.  Add the shrimp, raise the heat to medium and cook just long enough to cook the shrimp through.  Remove the pan from heat and add the soy sauce, salt, and sesame oil.  Stir in the chopped pea shoots and mix well.  Set aside to cool.

To assemble the rolls,  place a good portion of the pea shoot and shrimp mixture just below the center of a crepe.  Along the top edge of the crepe apply a thin line of the flour and water paste.  Roll the crepe from the bottom and press lightly to seal in the filling.  (Nb: do not fold in the sides like making a spring roll or a burrito.)  Press down on the rolled crepe to get a slightly flattened roll.  Continue the process until the remaining crepes.

Once you have completed filling the crepes, heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the remaining 2 TBS of peanut oil.  When the oil is almost smoking, pan fry the crepes,  1 or 2 at a time, turning them to brown on all sides.  Drain on paper towels.  Transfer the rolls to a serving plate and cut each one crosswise into 4 to 6 pieces.  Serve hot.  (Rolls can be assembled several hours before and fried just before you want to serve them.)

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