Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aunt Gloria's Jamaican Shrimp Fritters

The nicest thing about visiting Calgary is finding out what family foodies are cooking and eating! This recipe is full of shrimp and flavor. The egg, which is optional, adds additional leavening. The tomato helps keep the fritter moist. At my dad's request, my sister-in-law Lorraine made these fritters for a Calgary Stampede breakfast at home. Our guests requested her recipe because they loved these fritters so much. Lorraine uses very little measurements in her cooking but I like to be scientific so these amounts, except for the shrimp, are approximate.

3 lb. (6 cups) large frozen fresh shrimp, thawed, shelled, deveined, cut into 4 pieces each and sprinkled with 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 1/2 cups (or more) self-rising flour (omit salt or use very little if using self-rising flour)
1 egg (optional)
1 large tomato seeded and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper (use less if preferred)
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup scallion, chopped finely  (about 1 bunch)
1  1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely (about 1 1/2 bunches)
1-3 "country peppers" (scotch bonnet or habaƱero), seeded and chopped finely (discard seeds or use them if a hotter fritter is desired)
1 inch of oil in a heavy skillet for frying.

Combine dry ingredients: flour and black pepper. Add egg (if using) and 2 cups of the water. Whisk to combine. Use the back of a spoon to flatten any lumps.

The batter should be thick, not runny. There are two ways to test this. First, dip a spoon in the batter. If the batter mounds and doesn't spread, the batter is thick enough. The second way is the traditional method.  Lorraine dips a chopstick in the batter and pulls out the stick.  If batter runs off the chopstick, it needs more flour. If it drips in clumps, it's thick enough. Add a bit more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the batter is too thin. If the batter is too thick, add up to 1/2 cup more water.

Add shrimp, tomato, scallion, and cilantro. Combine. At this point, divide the batter if you want to make half a batch of mild fritters and the remainder spicy.

Add the chilies to half the batter and stir to combine.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Lorraine dips a wooden chopstick in the oil; if it sizzles then it is hot enough. Drop batter in rounded spoonfuls in hot oil. Fry until golden, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain well on paper toweling. Cool slightly. Serve warm as an appetizer or as a snack.

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