One of my sisters – Karen who lives in Macau, gave me a pack of really good quality dried shrimps when I was visiting a couple of weeks ago. I have been ‘day dreaming’ about creating a new recipe with these beautiful little shrimps ever since we came back from our holiday. I am glad I did eventually, and because of this recipe, which reminds me how much I used to love this flavorsome ingredient when I was a little girl. I remember my mother would cook them in soup with mung bean vermicelli and Chinese courgette, steamed them with egg, used them to ‘spice up’ the otherwise bland cabbage stew, and the list goes on. Now I am just happy that I rediscover this amazingly versatile ingredient and looking forward to extend my cooking repertoire with the help of these little guys!
Dried shrimp is full of flavour, aromatic and has a chewy texture that survives even in a long cooking process. It is a natural ‘flavour enhancer’, which in my opinion, is equivalent to anchovies in Italian or other western cooking. It is an extremely popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. In Asia, shrimps are shelled then directly dried in the sun on wooden planks, hence the intense flavour. If you use them in stir-fry or dishes which require limited cooking time, pre-soak the shrimps is advisable (and use the soaking water as well if you are making sauce). Otherwise, add them as they are in stew, soup or other slow-cooked dishes.
As for today’s recipe, I soaked the shrimps about an hour before chopping them up in smaller pieces. The soaking replenishes the lost moisture and softens the texture a little bit, which helps the shrimps to take on the seasoning added at the end. This recipe is so easy to make and it is spicy, savory, crunchy but at the same time chewy which makes this topping a delight to your mouth and tastebuds! A great contrast to the coolness of the salad. I can imagine sprinkle them on rice and noodle dishes as well as…well, anything really!!
For the seasoning:
- 1 Tbsp. Tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 Tbsp. Mirin
- 1 Tsp. Agave syrup
- 1 Tsp. Sesame oil
- 1 Tsp. Korean Chili flakes
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup Dry Shrimps (Asian Store)
- 1/2 cup raw Peanut, lightly crushed
- 5 large leaves of parsley, finely chopped
For the salad:
- 1 medium Kohlrabi, peeled and Julienned
- 1 medium carrot, julienned
- 1 apple, julienned
- 1 small handful of mint leaves
- 3 Tbsp. of fish sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp. Agave syrup
Pre-soak the dried shrimps in warm water for an hour then drain, squeeze out excess water. roughly chop the shrimps in smaller pieces. set aside.
Lightly crushed the peanuts in a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
To make the seasoning, combine all seasoning ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Heat a wok or a non-stick frying pan until hot, dry toasted the peanuts on medium heat until slight brown. Add the chopped dried shrimps and fry for another minute. Turn the heat to low and add the seasoning (be careful not to scorch the bottom of the pan), quickly stir-fry until all ingredients are coated evenly with the seasoning. Removed from heat and transfer the topping to a bowl and cool slightly. Garnish with chopped parsley.
To make the dressing for the salad, combine the last 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the dressing to the vegetables in a large salad bowl and served with the spicy topping.
For the step by step photo recipe, click here for Kitchenbowl.