At the Asian Store — Au magasin asiatique

salmon tartar  nuoc mâm fish prawn crackers ginger radish apple coriander

Gingered Salmon Tartar with Radish and Green Apple on Prawn Crackers

I can make this confession. I have a weakness for a type of junk food.

Or, is it really junk food?

It is all about a question of perspective, isn’t it?

In fact, no matter what it is, I do not even care. Or mind. I love to eat Prawn Crackers or Whatever You Call Them.

———

When I arrived at the specialized Asian store in Brighton by noon, I was really confident that it would be easy. I mean, like a real piece of cake. My plan was to walk into the large warehouse-looking store, scan quickly the shelf where lines of chips bags were kept, and walk out a few minutes later, happy with prawn crackers in my hands. A ten minute trip, not more complicated than this. And hopefully, I would not even need to ask any question to anyone. On my last visit, I had found out the hard way that only one woman spoke English amongst the staff, which ironically sounded like Chinese to me. I could hardly understand her. But as I walked through every single alley, looking carefully at each one of the shelves, I could not locate my crackers. Reluctantly, I walked back to the front counter where Mrs X. was busy talking to a few Chinese people.

Excuse me, I am looking for shrimp chips (which I thought was their name),” I told her. She looked back at me somewhat puzzled, and so I repeated my question again. The second time, it seemed to make more sense to her. She took my hand briskly and pulled me over to a tall display loaded with stuff standing by the check-out.

Ah no no, this is not what I want,” I then told her when her finger pointed towards a bag full of pink flat chips.”They are white and curvy. They melt in your mouth. Do you know them? I usually have them in Thai restaurants.

Do you make them?” she replied with a strong accent. Between mine and hers, we made a pretty odd pair.

Make them? I don’t know. I’ve never made them before. I thought I was going to buy them already made.

Her eyes lit up. She pulled on my hand again and started to take larger steps this time, almost running, and eventually dragged me at the other end of the store. There, she pointed towards a blue rectangular box with a large pink prawn drawn on it.

This is what you want!” she repeated twice while shoving a box in my hands.

Are you sure?” I said hesitantly.

This is what you want!” she insisted.

All right, all right.

Since it was so cheap, I did not think twice about it and left the store with the box in my hands. Feeling eager to see whether Mrs X. was right, I drove home as fast as I could. Next to Chinese — was it? — a few instructions in both English and French were written on the blue box, making me feel somewhat safer. I would at least have a clue as to what to do. Take a large pot, pour some oil in it and fry the prawns. But when I opened the box, it was my turn to feel puzzled. It contained nothing but one-inch transparent pieces that looked like mere hard plastic. Was it it? Just dip them in the oil and see what happens, I repeated to myself. With my eyes riveted to the pot full of hot oil, I started by dropping one piece into the oil and stood there, waiting. It landed at the bottom. After one min, the thing started to move. It rose to the surface and eventually opened, stretching as a cocoon turns into a butterfly. And, it looked airy and snow white in color. Thrilled, I started again. Faster this time, it happened again. Fall, rise, open, stretch, white-colored and light. Le bonheur ! (Happiness!) How I wished I could have given Mrs X. a hug at that very moment. She was right! I had found my favorite junk food — or call them prawn crackers — and would at last be able to adorn them with one of my second favorite pig out food, a Gingered Salmon Tartar.

It was about time! I had been waiting to make this amuse-bouche for quite a while now.

———–

A few notes how I get inspired to create recipes and why I love this particular tartar:

  • I never get tired of ginger, and coriander in fish tartars.
  • How can you go wrong with lime?
  • The pink peppercorns are not only pretty, but they are a great touch added both in taste and texture. So is cayenne pepper.
  • The acidic taste provided by the apple comes as a nice contrast to the more neutral taste of the fish. The crunchiness next to the softness of the salmon works in the same way.
  • The radish enhances the overall gentle spiciness.
  • I also like my dishes to be balanced in colors, so always think under these terms when choosing ingredients.

salmon tartar fish prawn crackers

Gingered Salmon Tartar with Radish and Green Apple

(For 4 people as amuse-bouche)

You need:

  • 7 oz (1/2 lb) extra fresh pink salmon, skinned and diced
  • 1/2 green organic apple — Granny Smith — cut in small sticks
  • 1 pink radish, diced thinly
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1.5 Tbsp avocado oil (or use a neutral one if you cannot find avocado)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp coriander, chopped
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • Lemon juice (for the apple)
  • Pink peppercorns
  • Prawn crackers (to make or bought made)

Steps:

  • In a bowl, mix together the fish sauce, avocado oil, lime juice and zest, ginger and add a dash of cayenne. Keep.
  • Dice the fish.
  • Wash the radish and dice it thinly.
  • Chop the scallion.
  • Wash the apple and without peeling it, cut it in long sticks (sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice to avoid oxidation).
  • Chop the coriander thinly.
  • Mix all above prepared ingredients together in a bowl, and add the sauce. Toss well and place in the fridge for 30 min.
  • Take prawn crackers (make them by following the instructions on the package or use already made ones) and serve the tartar on a cracker.
  • Top with extra coriander and pink peppercorns.
  • Le coin français
    Tartare de saumon au gingembre, radis et pomme verte

    (Pour 4 personnes, en amuse-bouche)

    Ingrédients :

    • 200 g de saumon extra frais, sans peau et coupé en dés
    • 1/2 pomme verte bio — Granny Smith — coupée en bàtonnets
    • 1 gros radis rose, coupé en petits dés
    • 1 oignon tige
    • 2,5 cm de racine de gingembre, râpée finement
    • 1 càs de sauce nuoc-mâm
    • 2 càs de jus de citron vert
    • 1.5 càs d’huile d’avocat (ou toute huile neutre de goût si vous ne trouvez pas d’huile d’avocat)
    • Zeste d’un citron vert
    • 1 càs de coriandre, hachée
    • Une pincée de piment de cayenne
    • Jus de citron (pour la pomme)
    • Quelques baies roses
    • Beignets de crevettes (à faire ou déjà préparés)

    Étapes :

  • Dans un bol, mélangez le gingembre, la sauce nuoc mam, l’huile d’avocat, le jus de citron vert et son zeste et une pincée de cayenne. Réservez.
  • Coupez le poisson en petits dés.
  • Lavez le radis et coupez-le en petits dés (brunoise).
  • Hachez l’oigon tige.
  • Lavez la pomme et sans la peler, coupez-la en bâtonnets fins (arrosez de quelques gouttes de jus de citron pour éviter qu’elle ne noircisse).
  • Hachez la coriandre finement.
  • Mélangez tous les ingrédients ci-dessus dans un saladier. Mettez au frais pendant 30 min.
  • Prenez vos beignets de crevettes (faites-les en suivant les instructions sur le paquet ou utilisez-en des touts faits) et servez le tartare dessus.
  • Ajoutez de la coriandre et des baies roses.
  • Posted in Appetizers, Fish | 66 Comments

    66 comments

    1. Un jour je suis allée chez Tang avec une personne originaire d’Asie, quel bonheur, car elle m’a permis de découvrir beaucoup de produits que je ne connaissais pas !

    2. Jamais eu l’idée de prendre les koupouks comme supports d’amuse-gueules… Merci!!! Et c’est très joliment présenté, comme toujours.
      P.S.- les beignets sont quand même meilleurs faits à la maison. C’est super facile, avec un wok de l’huile et des sopalins. Et quand ils sont tièdes c’est meilleur (peut-être parce qu’à la maison ils n’ont jamais eu l’occasion de refroidir :-)

    3. Going to Asian Food Stores is always fun. All those interesting looking packages and delights hidden within, it’s really one big adventure. I always buy pocky :), my favourite Asian junk food.

    4. I love those chips. I remember going to the store with my parents to get them and playing the the “plastic” chips before we fried them up to perfection! Yum!

    5. Wow! Quel délice. Un peu plus, et je grimpais dans l’écran pour aller en chercher un morceau! lol

    6. Fabulous! I’m guessing you went to the giant 88 Supermarket near BU? I often go to the one in South Bay — my absolute favorite store. I love these shrimp chips, too — watching them puff up in oil makes me feel like a child! You’ve created a truly beautiful amuse bouche, too.

    7. So that is what they are called! My stepmother used to make them all the time, I just like to watch them fry up.

    8. i felt like i was on the journey to buy the prawn chips. they are perfect.

    9. encore une association riche en saveurs et en couleurs à laquelle je n’aurais pas pensé!! mais encore une que je vais essayer, sois en sûre
      j’en profite pour te dire que je t’ai invitée à un petit questionnaire, si le coeur t’en dis, bien sûr!

    10. this post reminded me of my childhood, my mom would fry some of these up for our snacks, aren’t they cool? I’m glad you were able to find them :) this looks gorgeous

    11. Heehee, I always loved watching my mom fry these things up. I’m glad your story has a happy ending!

    12. Quand on va au resto asiatique ici, je n’en voie jamais. Imagine combien de paquets j’englouti quand je vais en France. Mais alors la les faire soi meme comme ca c’est genial! Ah si seulement j’habitais dans ton coin, j’en prendrais au mojns 2-3 paquets! Je vais essayer de voir si j’en trouve sur internet.
      Les photos elles meme sont a croquer!

    13. I love prawn chips (that is what I have always called them). I have only had them at restaurants. I am always eager to deep fry anything. I have to find them pre-fried like you described.

    14. Those are indeed called shrimp crackers in India too…in fact, we have rice crackers, lentil crackers, tapioca crackers…and various others that we fry up all the time to eat with rice and curry

    15. I’ve eaten prawn crackers all my life, but never even contemplated using them for something like this! It sheds these humble crackers in a completely new light!

    16. Certes ces chips sont bonnes, mais les chips aux crevettes indonésiennes sont encore meilleures : elles sont plus grandes, légèrement rosées. En fait, à base de vraies crevettes. La texture est identique, mais la chips est plus forte en goût.
      Hmm, rien que d’y penser…

    17. Dis Béa, quand tu ouvres un restaurant ou si tu écris un livre, tu m’invites ????? c’est à nouveau magnifique. et en plus tu joues dans un régistre que j’adore….trop forte, bravo

      Bonne journée
      Claude

    18. Ce tartare de saumon doit être délicatement parfumé, l’idée de le servir sur des chips en guise de petites coupelles est excellente!

    19. Great idea Bea! In my hometown of Hanoi, we did something very similar. Yours look excellent! Can’t be better!

    20. Oh Bea, these look wonderful. I can imagine your face when you opened the box. Did they look like mouthwash strips, the ones you put on your tongue? Thanks for your notes on how you come up with recipes.. I will keep those in mind.

    21. it s always so magic to look at the prawn craker blooming like a water lily. Congratulations for your fantastic pictures, I come on your page almost every day only to look at them and read your recipes… I definitely need to begin a food blog too.

    22. Wow, I didn’t know that prawn crackers can be this creative. :) Nice combinations!

    23. Bea,

      This looks beautiful! And very interesting too! I’ve been having these crackers since young and have never thought of doing amuse-bouche like these with them. I always enjoyed them with a little sweet chilli sauce. In Singapore, we call them keropok(crackers) udang(prawn) in Malay.

      Great recipe and gorgeous photos!

    24. I love prawn crackers too, but I like the pale pink ones better! Try it out next time. There is also a brown variety called fish crackers and they smell nasty.

    25. Bea,
      In Malay and Indonesian, they are called Kerupuk (or keropok). for prawns it is called kerupuk udang, for fish kerupuk ikan. There are also versions of kerupuk made of crabs and squids.I like the ones you got – the blue box with a large prawn on it has the right balance.
      There are also kerupuk made of fruits – a bitter one Indonesian (Sumatran)specialty called kerupuk melinjau.
      I like the way you described your experience. It reminded me of how my husband was the first time he saw me frying them – he said they look like flowers blooming.

    26. Bea, you are a girl after my own heart! I first discovered shrimp chips in the Netherlands, and love-love-loved them!

      When I moved back to the states, I could only remember the Dutch word for them, and of course, nobody understood what I was asking for. I almost cried the first time I came across some.

      What a lovely, light recipe… perfect for summer!

    27. We have lived near all sorts of ethnice neighborhoods – Chinese (predictably!) and Indian and Greek and so on – and I love wandering through the grocery shops and trying to figure out what everything is.

      I must say, the best visit I ever had was an Indian store where the shop owner, so enamoured over my interest, spent quite a long time telling me what different ingredients were and how to cook with them. Absolutely fascinating, isn’t it?

      Cheers!

    28. This is just great inspiration!!!!!!! You did a very good work with the prawn cake–one of my favorite thing in the world.

      Truly beautiful composition.

    29. how could something this beautiful be junk food. Oh I do love prawn crackers…their flavor is simply addictive. I’ve never had it with salmon. Maybe if I make this this way I won’t eat the entire bag.

    30. Thank you all so much for your comments and telling me about variants, including names in Malay and Indonesian. I feel so enriched with this information now! I will definitely search for more. If I like the prawn crackers, I can only love the others too!

      Merci encore à tous de vos commentaires!

    31. Ooooh, they are too beautiful. It’s funny as I was thinking to use up my shrimp crackers in the panty and make some appetizers, but couldn’t think of any brilliant idea for the filling yet. Yours is so creative and inspiring. I will have to take your filling recipe and turn it into something Malaysian…hehe. I will post it on my blog if and when I know what to do!

      Thanks for this wonderful post and pictures, too.

    32. ohhh… i never realized that you make the shrimp crackers… they are so addictlivly tastey…

    33. Rhoooo non, c’est trop beau Béa ! J’aime tout ! Tes derniers billets, autant le fraisier, que ta dernière déclinaison pomme-mangue, que ce tartare de saumon qui me rappelle les sushis et les sashimis de mon japonais préféré que je vais bien vite revoir une fois Bébé arrivé (plus que 20 jours maxi à patienter, héhé…) ;O)))

      Merci pour toutes ces recettes et ces magnifiques photos que tu partages avec nous tous sur ton blog, c’est un véritable régal pour les yeux !

      Amicalement blog,
      Ingrid

    34. Ok, now you’ve got to be done. Surely this is the last time you’ve blown my mind. Plastic disks turn into those light airy things that I love! But maybe it’s your topping that is even more mind blowing…that stuff looks incredible! What a fun time in the store!

    35. That looks very much like Vietnamese shrimp goi (salad), which is often served on prawn crackers. I also make an octopus & green papaya salad and serve it on the prawn crackers.

    36. What a cute story! I love these chips too but I had no idea you could make them at home. That’s pretty neat. :D Your photo is gorgeous, so colorful!

    37. Très étonnant comme préparation! Je suis curieuse d’essayer. Il est tellement agréable de s’émerveiller de la sorte!

    38. Stunning!! I have always loved watching these bubble up as they go into the oil, well it’s just like magic!! These look so incredible, so impressive and you know how I adore salmon, I may have to make these for our dinner tomorrow!

    39. Je n’avais jamais pensé à utiliser les beignets de crevettes de la sorte, c’est une super idée ! Je te pique aussi ta recette de tartare, j’aime beaucoup le saumon cru :)

    40. Simply beautiful!

      Great story too. You had to be ecstatic when you saw them pop open in the oil! :)

    41. j’ai moi aussi déjà fait un tartare de saumon à la pomme verte et j’ai adoré! je retiens ta présentation très originale!

    42. Frying them youself is healthier too!! (if fried food can be said to be healthy… ) You can choose the oil to fry them in for one. Plus frying them yourself ensures that reused oil is not used. Factories that make prawn crackers tend to use the same oil for quite a few batches… so the oil is not that good

    43. You’ve done something so beautifully creative with the simple prawn cracker we so often take for granted.

    44. Bonjour tout le monde! Est-ce que la pate pour les raviolis se conserve bien au frigo ou au congelateur et pour combien de temps? J’ai jamais essayer de la garder mais j’aimerai bien en faire bp pour utiliser plus tard…

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    46. These prawn crackers are very common in Southeast Asia. I always force my Indonesian friends to buy some for me whenever they come over to Singapore. There is another type which I like better, the strips kind. And after frying, it resembles french fries! Very yummy!

    47. Bea, I hope you don’t mind, but I made your recipe, with little minor changes dictated by what I forgot to but, and I followed your plating idea. Please take it as a compliment, and not as plagiarism. I was looking for these crakers for months now and finally made the recipe tonight. I had them so many times as a kid, so I went to China town to get them, and went thru a very similar story searching the stores. Thanks a lot.

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