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These whimsical appetizers are made with a mousseline of shrimp, studded with crunchy water chestnuts, and rolled in bits of rice noodles. Once fried, the noodles puff up appealingly, creating a delightfully crisp coating.
- 2⁄3 lb male medium shrimp, peeled,deveined,rinsed,drained,and dried
- 1⁄2 cup water chestnut, chopped
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons gingerroot, minced
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons scallions, minced
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons rice wine or 1 1⁄2 tablespoons sake
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 ounces rice noodles or 4 ounces vermicelli
- 4 cups safflower oil or 4 cups corn oil
- plum sauce or Chinese duck sauce
- hot mustard, for dipping
- Blanch the water chestnuts in boiling water for 10 seconds, refresh them in cold water, drain thoroughly, and dry with paper towels.
- Place the shrimp in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and chop to a paste.
- Transfer to a large bowl and add the water chestnuts, ginger root, scallions, rice wine or sake, sesame oil, salt, egg white and cornstarch.
- Stir vigorously in one direction until the mixture forms a stiff paste.
- Chill thoroughly for easier handling before shaping into balls.
- Holding a towel or a plastic bag over the rice stick noodles to contain them, use a sharp knife to cut them to ½-inch lengths.
- Spread them evenly on a cookie sheet.
- Shape scant teaspoonfuls of the shrimp mixture into balls, then coat them in the rice noodle pieces, pressing lightly.
- Set on a cookie sheet.
- Heat a wok or a skillet, add the safflower or corn oil, and heat to 375°F.
- Deep-fry the shrimp balls in batches, turning constantly, until golden brown, about 3½ minutes.
- Remove with a strainer or a slotted spoon and drain briefly in a colander, then transfer to absorbent paper.
- Strain the oil with a fine-meshed strainer and reheat between batches.
- Arrange the deep-fried balls on a platter and serve warm with plum sauce and hot mustard.
- They may be reheated in a preheated 375°F oven, about 10 minutes until crisp and piping hot.