Crunchy Shrimp Balls Recipe - Viet World Kitchen (2024)

The first time I ordered these deep-fried shrimp balls at a dim sum restaurant, they carried the honoric title of “chef’s special balls.” Yes, I just used the word balls twice in one sentence. My husband and I giggled at the English name as we ordered the crisp little wonders, coated with crunchy ribbons of noodles. Those balls were the size of golf balls and a little awkward to manage with chopsticks. I’m sure you’re smirking or laughing aloud by now. Nevertheless, they offered a nice contrast of textures and shrimp flavor. (If you've had this little wonder, what were they called in English and/or Chinese?)

It was probably the name but I’ve didn’t make chef’s special balls at home until earlier this week. Bee Yinn Low’s new Easy Chinese Recipes cookbook inspired me to do so with a recipe for “crunchy shrimp balls” which gave them a little more gravitas and got me over my giggles. (I contributed a cover blurb to the book so suffice it to say, I’ve been pondering these crunchy morsels since I reviewed the galleys months ago.) Bee is the brains behind the super popular Rasa Malaysia blog, a newish mom, and now a cookbook author.

Plumb Bee's debut cookbook and you’ll find interesting nuggets of information that she’s plucked from Asian kitchens. To frame her book “easy” is to downgrade it because “easy” often connotes shortcuts. In reality, the book is dotted with nifty tidbits to help you understand certain aspects of Chinese cooking.

For example, there’s a discussion of using baking soda to tenderize meat – a technique often used in Asia and by old school Chinese American cooks to impart a silky and tender texture to tough slices of beef. Years ago, a well known Asian food authority scowled when I mentioned it to him, saying that American beef does not need such cheap tricks. Hey, people do what they do in their kitchen so for Bee to include the technique in a matter-of-fact way is refreshing; note that she applies it to chicken, not beef.

Back to the balls. The valuable nugget that I found in Bee’s recipe for crunchy shrimp balls is the use of spring roll skins as the “noodle” for encasing the ball of shrimp paste. The skin gets cut into ribbons and is ultimately used as a skin, of sorts.

Yours truly had a frozen package of commercial spring roll skins —the kind use for Filipino lumpia, Shanghai spring rolls, and non-traditional Viet cha gio imperial rolls. I wanted to use them because they fry up to a somewhat ethereal crisp finish that holds and reheats well. Plus, the resulting crunchy shrimp balls have an arty, octopuslike look with the ribbons of spring roll skins coating them.

Wontons skins can be used but they can fry up to a matted, slightly bubby finish that I find unattractive looking and unpleasant tasting. In a pinch, use the more accessible wonton skins and buy the thinnest ones available. (See wonton skin buying tips.) Gulf shrimp were on sale at the market so I bought 12 ounces and thawed the spring roll skins for a batch. A little chopped chive from the garden added a note of color and flavor.

My husband eagerly poured some white wine and we dipped the shrimp balls in a combination of leftover banh mi mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce. It was the perfect prelude to dinner.


Shrimp Buying Guide and Prep Tips


Crunchy Shrimp Balls

I implore you to peel and devein your own shrimp. They will taste many times better than using easy peel or peeled shrimp which have an off taste. Buy 10 to12 ounces to get you the 8 ounces of shrimp meat that you want for the balls. This recipe has been adapted from Easy Chinese Recipes.

Makes 12 balls, to serve 4 as a snack

Shrimp paste

8 ounces raw shrimp
Scant 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 ½ teaspoons canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1generous teaspoon finely chopped chives or green onion, green part only

6 spring roll skins, 8-inch squares or circles
Canola oil for deep-frying
Banh Mi Mayonnaise, Sriracha, and/or Chile Garlic Sauce

1. Put the shrimp in a strainer, toss with ½ teaspoon salt to refresh, then rinse. Pat with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Roughly chop the shrimp into large pieces and set aside.

2. In a bowl, stir together the remaining ½ scant teaspoon salt with the egg white, pepper, sugar, both kinds of oil, and cornstarch. Add the shrimp, and stir to combine well.

3. Transfer to a small or large food processor. Grind to a coarse texture, pausing to scrape as needed, before adding the chives. Grind the shrimp a little longer to produce a sticky, somewhat smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to develop the flavor and firm up a bit. Or, refrigerate overnight. Makes about 1 cup.

4. Separate each spring roll skin, then cut them into thin ribbons, each a scant ¼-inch wide. You can roll 2 skins up at a time and use scissors. For even cuts, I folded the skins in half on my work surface and cut them with a knife. (It’s somewhat similar to cutting homemade udon noodles.) Set aside.

5. Use two teaspoons to shape 12 balls, each about 1-inch big. I leave the balls in the bowl as I work. Lightly wet the palms of your hands in a bowl of water then roll one of the balls between them to smooth out the rough surfaces.

Make a small pile of the ribbons and drop the ball onto the pile. Roll it around to make the ribbons adhere all over. Snip extra non-clinging bits, if you want to neaten things up. Set aside and repeat with the remaining shrimp balls.

6. Heat 1 ¾ to 2 inches of oil in a wok over medium-high heat to about 350F on a deep-fry thermometer. (If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, stick a dry chopstick in and bubbles should immediately rise to the surface if the oil is ready.) Have a rack placed in a baking sheet nearby.

Fry the shrimp balls, about 4 to 6 at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed. Occasionally turn the balls with chopsticks and/or skimmer. Remove to drain on the rack. Return the oil to temperature between batches. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating with the mayo and/or hot sauce.

Reheating tip: Keep a room temperature, loosely covered, then reheat in a preheated 350F toaster oven for about 10 minutes, or until gently sizzling and hot.

More deep-fried morsels on VWK and Asian Dumpling Tips

Crunchy Shrimp Balls Recipe - Viet World Kitchen (2024)


What is dim sum shrimp ball called? ›

Har gow is a steamed dumpling made up of marinated shrimp filling left whole encased in a delicately pleated, translucent wrapper that has a slightly tacky texture. It's a traditional Cantonese dish and it was created by a chef from the Yizhen Teahouse in China. It's often served with hot mustard and soy sauce.

What is the origin of shrimp balls? ›

Shrimp Balls don`t have any clear origin but it is normally considered China to be origin of Shrimp balls. The shrimp balls can be made up of variety of shrimps such as white shrimp or more luxurious pink shrimp or any other popularly found shrimps.

How long does a shrimp ball last? ›

To store the shrimp cheese ball, wrap it in plastic wrap. Then, store it in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. When ready to serve, let it sit out for about 15 minutes to soften it up.

What is crispy dim sum? ›

As a result, deep fried dishes, which one would describe as 'crispy dim sum', is a relatively modern innovation. The two most classical deep fried dim sums would be: Hom Sui Gok, a savory deep fried glutenous rice dumpling filled with meat or seafood.

What is Bloomin shrimp? ›

Outback Bloomin Fried Shrimp is incredibly delicious crispy fried shrimp battered with bloomin onion seasoning and topped with a drizzle of spicy bloom sauce. Get the easy copycat recipe and find out how to make Outback Steakhouse Bloomin Fried Shrimp at home.

What is the Chinese food that looks like a ball? ›

Tangyuan are a traditional Chinese dessert made of glutinous rice shaped into balls that are served in a hot broth or syrup. They come in varying sizes, anything between a marble to a ping pong ball, and are sometimes stuffed with filling.

What are the little balls on shrimp? ›

Those are prawn eggs, or shrimp eggs.

Are shrimp rings real shrimp? ›

They are specially processed and prepared. The fresh, headless raw shrimp is processed immediately after harvest. Then Shrimp Rings are cooked in a special manner.

What are shrimp mineral balls? ›

They are supposed to release minerals into the water and the shrimps are supposed to be able to feed on them.

What are the orange balls on shrimp? ›

The tiny translucent orange orbs, about . 38 mm in diameter, are shrimp eggs. They are perfectly safe to eat and chock-full of nutritional goodness in the form of vitamin B12, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, phospholipids, and carotenoids.

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