Monday, May 11, 2015

Rosie Makes Mrs. Chiang's Shrimp and Pork Balls.

Regular readers know my love of Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook.
Mr. Hawthorne and I have made 6 or more of Mrs. Chiang's dishes
and all have been successful.

Here's a bit of the history behind the book:
Somehow, Mrs. Chiang was Chiang-hied by the husband and wife team of John and Ellen Shrecker.
The Shreckers were in Taiwan studying Chinese culture and pursuing Chinese language studies and their love of Chinese food.  Mrs. Chaing grew up in Szechwan and eventually made her way to Taiwan where her cooking became famous.  When the Shreckers first tasted Mrs. Chiang's food, they were astonished at the difference between Mrs. Chiang's authentic Szechwan fare and what passed for Chinese food in American restaurants.  The Shreckers had discovered zhen wer, or "true taste," a classical principle of careful preparation, attention to detail, and practice, blithely ignored by American Chinese restaurants.  So impressed with Mrs. Chiang's cooking, the Shreckers condescendingly offered to bring Mrs. Chiang back to America, to Jersey for crying out loud, to look after their children as well as to cook for them, while Mrs. Shrecker pursued her PHD.  Mrs. Shrecker hounded poor Mrs. Chiang in the kitchen, following her about with a small notebook, while Mr. Shrecker practiced his Chinese language and translated for wifey. 
The book is a "must-read."  
Here's a tid-bit from Chapter Six:
Mrs. Chiang's arrival in America completely altered our life style. We began to give dinner parties, dozens of them, for her food was so good, we felt obliged to feed all our friends."
 All the time, Mrs. Chiang is taking care of the Shreckers' little rugrats.

Today, I'm trying a new one dish from Mrs. Chiang -
Shrimp and Pork Balls or xiayuan.

Shrimp and Pork Balls

3/4 pound ground pork
 (The fatter the pork, the lighter the balls.)
3 TB soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
4 scallions
1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 mound shrimp
Mrs. Chiang calls for 7 fresh water chestnuts
and admonishes the "canned ones are no substitute!"
I'm using canned...
2 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 TB Chinese rice wine or sherry
1 1/4 tsp ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns
1 cup cornstarch
Peanut oil for frying

Put pork in a large mixing bowl.
Add soy and sesame oil.
Chop scallions into tiny pieces and add to pork.
Peel ginger, mince, and add to pork.
Pulverize shrimp.
Mrs. Chiang gives each shrimp a good solid whack
with the flat side of her cleaver.
She finishes the shrimp off by giving them
100 strokes with her cleaver.
Chop water chestnuts into tiny pieces and add to mixture.
Add salt, egg whites, wine, peppercorns, and cornstarch.
Mix well until completely blended.

While the oil is heating to 340°-350°,
form the mixture into 15-16 plum-sized balls.
Helps to keep your hands moist to prevent sticking.
Frying in batches, carefully lower balls into hot oil.
Lower flame slightly and cook for about 8 minutes,
turning them and keeping them separated,
until they're golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.

Pork, soy, sesame oil, ginger.

Your hands are your best kitchen tools.
Add in the minced water chestnuts.
Anybody OCD? 


100 chop-chops.

You want the shrimp to look like a paste.

Add to pork mixture.
 Mix well.

 Add in beaten egg whites.
Toasted Szechwan peppers.

And corn starch.
40 strokes with a wooden spoon.

Scoop and roll into balls.

Delightful little morsels of Asian goodness.

Sweet Asian chili sauce.
Sprinkling of scallions.

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