Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures
This is a very traditional Cantonese-style recipe from southern China that you will recognize instantly if you are a late-night prowler of Asian markets or have any experience at all with Asian street food. The combination of pork and shrimp is a familiar one, but when I went to Guangzhou one year, I tasted a version of the forcemeat made with chicken, and I was hooked. And when I got home from that trip, I knew I had to make them. Serving this dish in the Thai style, with lettuce wraps and vegetable garnishes, seemed the way to go. Once skewered you can grill, sauté, fry, poach or broil them—just make a double batch of the sauce, because it will fly out of your house faster than my son on a late summer night.—Andrew ZimmernFavorite Chinese Recipes
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sambal oelek or other Asian chile sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted, roasted peanuts, coarsely ground
1 Thai red chile—stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced, for garnish
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 ounces pork fatback, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 small shallots, chopped (about 1 cup)
5 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons roasted rice powder (see Note)
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
Vegetable oil, for shaping shrimp paste and grilling
1 package sugar cane swizzle sticks, sticks halved (see Note)
1 large carrot, cut into 3-inch julienne strips, for serving
1 seedless cucumber, cut into 3-inch julienne strips, for serving
24 butter lettuce leaves, for serving
1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, coarsely ground, for serving
Mint and cilantro leaves, for serving
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the sauce
In a small saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, tomato paste and sambal oelek and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the garlic is golden brown, about 30 seconds. Stir in the stock, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. Let cool completely, then stir in the ground peanuts. Transfer to a serving bowl and scatter the sliced chile on top.
Step 2 Prepare the skewers
In a large colander set over a bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Rinse well and pat dry. Transfer the shrimp to a food processor.
Step 3 Prepare the skewers
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the fatback and boil until softened slightly, about 10 minutes. Drain well, then add the fatback to the processor along with the shallots, garlic and sugar and pulse until very finely ground. Add the fish sauce, rice powder and black pepper and puree until smooth. Add the ground chicken and pulse until fully incorporated.
Step 4 Prepare the skewers
Lightly oil a baking sheet. With lightly oiled hands, press 2 tablespoons of the shrimp mixture in an oval shape around each sugarcane skewer, leaving 2 inches of the skewer exposed to act as a handle. Arrange on the oiled baking sheet.
Step 5 Prepare the skewers
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan and brush with oil. Working in batches if necessary, grill the skewers over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until white throughout, about 8 minutes.
Step 6 Prepare the skewers
To serve, place a few strips of carrot and cucumber in each lettuce leaf and top with a skewer, a spoonful of the dipping sauce and a sprinkling of ground peanuts and mint and cilantro leaves.
The dipping sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. The uncooked skewers can be refrigerated overnight.
Roasted rice powder, known as khao kua pon in Thailand, is popular in East Asian cooking for its toasty flavor and its binding effect. It’s available at Asian markets. Or, you can make it: In a small skillet, toast raw glutinous (sticky) rice over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the rice to a mortar or spice grinder and let cool completely. Grind the rice to a coarse powder. Sugarcane swizzle sticks are available in the fruit department of many large supermarkets or through melissas.com. Alternatively, look for canned sugarcane in syrup at Asian markets; you’ll have to drain the sugarcane and cut it into lengthwise sticks with a sharp knife.
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