Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chinese Fried Shrimp

The origin of this recipe is a curious one.
I always wondered where my grandmother got a recipe for Chinese Fried Shrimp. I was sure it wasn't something passed down from our non-Asian ancestors and it certainly didn't go with most of the recipes made in the Martorana household.
In preparation for this blog, I put out a request to my Aunts and Uncle for any family recipes they had. My Uncle Frank declared that he had my grandmother's cookbook which actually turned out to be Mrs. Rasmussen's Book of One-armed Cookery.
Published in 1946, Mary Lasswell's cookbook is a collection of recipes referenced in her novel Suds in Your Eyes about a group of woman who band together to deal with the hard times associated with WWII. One of them, Mrs. Rasmussen, uses her love of cooking to pass the time, whipping up delicious meals with the ingredients that they are able to scrape together.

(BTW-One-armed cookery refers to the act of stirring the pot with one hand and holding a beer in the other so apparently they did more than just cook to pass the time)

In the cookbook's foreword, Ms. Lasswell dedicates the book to those who served:

"Our Fightin' Men all over the globe has wrote us letters askin' for the recipes to some of our dishes at Noah's Ark...So this book was wrote for all those who served in the Armed Forces."

My own grandfather served in the war, spending his time in Burma as part of the Pacific War.

Here he is with his fellow Wildcat Squadron brothers in 1944.


At some point, after his safe return, my grandmother acquired a copy of the cookbook and used it to whip up some new recipes for her favorite soldier.

Virginia Martorana

Chinese Fried Shrimp became a favorite in the Martorana household and was a unanimous request for our cooking weekend this summer.
2 lb raw shrimp, tail on, drained
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
3 eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately
cold water
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder.
Add egg yolks and beat well, adding enough cold water to make a smooth, but not thin, batter.
Add egg whites and fold in carefully.

My Uncle Frank whipping up the batter...
Dip shrimp in flour, then batter and deep fry.
...and on fryer duty.
Serve with soy sauce.

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