This is an easy but somewhat messy dish to prepare. Be sure to use the best prawn or shrimp you can find. In preparation for assembling this I was lucky on timing and was able to source live, local spot prawns but otherwise use the best you can find. And do keep in mind that more than 75% of the shrimp sold in the USA is farm raised and flown in from Asia.
What are “bottle caps”? Bottle caps are essentially fried won tons after a creole make over. You can shape them to be sort of flat and round or taller like a wine cork. But seal them tight and don’t overstuff or you will get bottle cap blowouts when they hit the hot oil, and you don’t want that.
prawns or head on shrimp*
creole mustard (or other coarse, brown mustard)
scallions, green parts only
splash of hot sauce; Crystal or Tabasco preferred.
Steam your prawns in the shell for about fifteen minutes.
Shell the prawns and devein if necessary. Next, you are going to chop the meat. A few pulses from a food processor does a good job on this. If your prawns/shrimp haven’t already been decapitated scrape whatever head fat is left into a bowl. The chopped crustacean meat should be fairly coarse in texture. Save the heads and shell fragments for freezing. They make a damn fine stock.
Crustacean meat goes into the bowl with the head fat. Add the mustard, ketchup and horseradish. Chop the green tops of the scallions finely and add those. Hit this with your hot sauce but don’t overdo it.
Now make your bottle caps. Have a small bowl of water handy. Dip your finger in the water and run it around the perimeter of the first won ton skin. This will help seal it. Add only about ½ teaspoon of the filling meat to the center of the wrapper. A melon baller is a good tool for this. Fold, close and set aside. Keep working until you run out of filling.
In a large pot (cast iron is good), preferably equipped with a basket, heat the peanut oil (or a mixture of peanut and corn oil) to 375F. If you don’t have a basket you can use a Chinese spider. They are cheap. Lower the assembled bottle caps into the oil and fry just until lightly golden. Drain on paper towel, keeping in mind that they are still cooking their ownselves while they rest.
Place some lettuce leaves on serving plates and arrange your sized caps per portion. Now you can serve with more mustard and hot sauce on the side.
*Depending on where you live, head on shrimp can be difficult to find. Live ones are even harder. Probably what you will be working with are farm raised shrimp in the shell flown in from Asia. Make the best of it.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.