CURRIED LENTIL AND SHRIMP POPCORNS
OK, here’s the thing. Mountains, and I mean mountains, of unattended laundries accumulated in the past 3 weeks that has led to a moment last night when I had to remind myself that, plastic bags aren’t clean underwear (put it down, Mandy, put it down…). I mean come on, we’ve all been there, so surely you can understand if I say, grab yourself a handful of these shrimp popcorns and give me a helping hand.
But of course, these aren’t just any shrimp popcorns. These are bouncy, minced black tiger shrimps mixed with soften lentils, grated gingers, anchovies, then just the right amount of curry spices and most importantly, let’s not forget, pancetta tartare. What-eh-whadat? Yes, finely, and I mean finely cubed fatty pancetta, are generously dispersed within every folds and turns, releasing pleasure-grease into each and every one of these little bad babies as they get thinly coated and fried to crispy weekend-delights. But it doesn’t end there. I mean if I expect these to be worthy of helping laundries, of course it doesn’t end there. They are then tumbled and blanketed under a magic dust of salt and spices that may make you sneeze and tear from joy.
So here, don’t mind your greasy fingers. After this load of bed-sheets, there are about 5 more.
- 1 cup (250 ml/grams) water
- 1/4 cup (48 grams) green lentils
- 1/4 large onion (or 1/2 medium onion)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 9.2 oz (260 grams) peeled and deveined shrimps
- 3.5 oz (100 grams) ground pork
- 2 fillets of anchovy
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 inch square (60 grams) pancetta, finely finely diced
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch, or potato starch
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Canola oil for frying
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Chili flakes for sprinkling
- 1 tbsp ground white pepper (not black!)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- *TO COOK THE LENTILS: * Cook water, green lentils, onion, thyme and black pepper over medium-low heat with the lid on, for approx 10 min, until the lentils are soft. Drain well and discard the onion, then set aside to cool.
- TO MIX THE MEATBALL/POPCORNS: Add shrimps, ground pork, anchovies, grated ginger, curry powder, ground coriander, ground black pepper and salt in a food-processor, then pulse until the shrimps are coarsely minced and that the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer to a bowl, then add the cooked lentil and minced pancetta (Not "ground", but minced like beef tartare. We don't want to do this in the food-processor because we want to retain some texture of the pancetta.) and chopped cilantro, then mix evenly.
- Evenly mix everything under "spiced salt". Set aside
- TO FRY: Add enough canola oil in a frying pot until it reaches 1 inch deep, then bring to 350F (or until it bubbles up quickly around an inserted wooden chopstick).
- Meanwhile, mix tapioca starch (or potato starch) with ground black pepper on a plate. Dab your finger with a bit of vegetable oil to prevent sticking (not water because it will trap too thick of a breading), then make little "popcorns" about 2 tsp each, and roll them in the starch to lightly coat. Don't worry about making a smooth surface. They can be a bit ragged. Once you have enough of 1 batch, start frying them without crowding the pot, until golden browned and crispy on all sides. Let drain on a paper-towel while you fry the next batch.
- When the popcorns are still hot, toss them with minced garlic and chili flakes, then season generously with spiced salt. Serve immediately.
I would recommend using frozen-then-thawed black tiger shrimps for their firm/bouncy meat. If for budget concerns, you can reduce the ratio of shrimps to pork, to 50/50 to cut the cost. But I wouldn't go lower than that otherwise you wouldn't taste any shrimps in the popcorns.