Chinese New Year (‘CNY’) is already in full force, and I figure that these are the three possible reactions you might have towards the picture of the Spicy Dried Prawn Rolls / Hae Bee Hiam (蝦米香) above:
1. No more, just NO MORE – They were good while they lasted but I am already harbouring a sore throat from over-consumption…
2. NO, just give me some! A handful will do, or just a couple! What is CNY without these?!
3. Excuse me, but what are these?
Generally I would think that Category 1 refers to Singaporeans and Malaysians celebrating CNY back at home, Category 2 are those celebrating CNY overseas with no ready supply to these snacks, and Category 3 might be composed of non-Singaporeans/Malaysians or even non-Chinese (I have discovered that these addictive snacks are actually unique to our region in South-East Asia! I am guessing there is some Nonya influence… How else would dried shrimps and chilli find their way into CNY food?)
Nevertheless, no matter which category you belong to, this is a fairly time-consuming snack to make! Now I understand why these tubs of mini rolls command such high prices during the CNY period (or rather, why people don’t make them at other times of the year because it’s just too laborious). When I made these I was obviously in Category 2 mode… You don’t want to know how many hours I spent rolling these in front of my laptop when I should have been working on my essays *gasp*.
Step-By-Step Recipe: Spicy Dried Shrimp Rolls / Hae Bee Hiam (蝦米香)
For Hae Bee Hiam filling: Makes a 200g portion
5-6 tablespoons Sambal Chilli Paste
50g Dried Chilli*
150g Dried Shrimps
50g Shallots, chopped finely
50 g Garlic, chopped finely
3-5 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon Sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon Salt or to taste
For Spicy Dried Shrimp Rolls: Makes about 40-50 mini rolls
200g Spicy Hae Bee Hiam filling
5-6 large Spring Roll Skin, cut into 9 small squares
1 Egg, beaten lightly
Wok/Pot of Vegetable Oil for frying
*Optional: Recipes usually only ask for dried chilli, but as we couldn’t find any here, so we resorted to using a ready made Sambal Chilli Paste, which worked just as well! A drier, coarser and spicer sambal paste should be ideal.
Step 1: Preparation of ingredients
If you are using dried chillies, wash them thoroughly and chop into small chunks. Soak in water for about 1-2 hours before they turn soft! Drain the water, then squeeze chillies dry. Chop finely and leave aside.
Wash dried shrimps thoroughly as they may come with sediment and dirt. Leave them to soak for up to a few hours to soften. Then drain off the water and squeeze dry! Pat them with a kitchen towel if they’re still wet.
Now chop the dried shrimps! It’s okay if the chopping is not too even as the combination of fine and coarse pieces would provide good texture.
Step 2: Frying the Hae Bee Hiam filling
Heat vegetable oil in the work or pan at high heat till it starts to smoke lightly (this means it’s very very hot)! First add shallots and stir fry for a few minutes until they start to turn brown and fragrant.
Then add the garlic and continue to stir fry for a quick few minutes. Be careful! Garlic burns easily.
Add dried chillies/sambal paste and the chopped dried shrimps.
At high heat, continue to stir fry for about 10-15 minutes. Season with sugar and salt! They should be ready when they’re dark brown (not black). Leave aside to cool.
This is also great for fried rice, fried noodles, as a sandwich filling, with porridge et cetera!
Step 3: Hae Bee Hiam Origami
Fold the edges of the spring roll skin in. Tip: Do not try to put too much hae bee hiam filling as it might get too messy.
Remember to continuously seal the sides of the spring roll skin with the beaten egg.
Done! :D (Uh, this step actually took me 6 hours hur hur. Looked easy but they were such tiny little things that tortured my eyesight and fingers…)
Step 4: Deep frying the “raw” hae bee hiam rolls
Heat up a wok/pot of vegetable oil at medium heat (too hot and it will burn, too cool and it will be soggy). It should be hot enough when it starts to bubble. Fry for about 8-10 minutes until they turn golden brown.
However the bulk of them was still pretty and PRETTY TASTY! Yum, perhaps they tasted even better because of all the hardwork put in. I would never have thought that a simple snack like this needed so much work behind the scenes. The good thing about making your own is that you get to adjust the spice and salt levels, or even bake the rolls if you find deep frying too much of a hassle and too unhealthy. Hope this is a useful recipe to all the budding homesick Singaporean homecooks out there! Happy CNY once again :)
Posted by #phangchewfat