Shrimp in Caul Fat

(Hsia-chuan)

Milkfish is available at Chinese markets.

Shrimp in Caul Fat
These fried rolls burst with flavor and comforting heat.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 lb. milkfish or gray mullet filets, skinned and coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
  • 6 canned water chestnuts, drained and minced
  • 5 sprigs cilantro, finely minced
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Asian sesame oil
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 lb. caul fat, cut into eight 5" x 6" sheets
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. lard
  • 12 cup sweet potato flour
  • 18 tsp. ground anise
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Put fish and 2–3 pinches salt into a food processor. Gradually add 2 tbsp. ice water through feed tube in lid of processor while motor is running, until a thick paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add shrimp, water chestnuts, cilantro, scallions, oil, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  2. Spread 1 sheet of fat out on a clean surface with short ends perpendicular to you. Form one-eighth of the shrimp filling into a 5" cylinder and put in center of caul fat parallel to you. Roll fat around filling, folding in sides halfway through, then sprinkle a little cornstarch on edge of fat farthest from you, moisten with a little water, and press to seal shut. Repeat process with remaining fat and filling.
  3. Heat lard in a deep medium pot over medium heat until temperature reaches 360° on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, combine sweet potato flour, anise, and 14 tsp. pepper in a shallow bowl. Working in batches, dip shrimp rolls into eggs, dredge in flour mixture, then deep fry until golden all over, 5-6 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Slice shrimp rolls on the bias and serve hot with hoisin sauce and prepared wasabi or with wedges of lime, if you like.