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Shrimp chips?

Return with us now to the days of yore - or at least the late 50s/early 60s, before my family moved to New York. Mom brought home some goodies from a visit to NYC, among which was a box of something that looked like multi-colored plastic chips. When placed into a frying pan full of hot oil, they bubbled at the edges for a moment or two, then suddenly puffed up to resemble styrofoam- or maybe a better description would be pork rinds. Drained them on paper towel for a moment and sprinkled salt over them.

I THINK they were made from dried shrimp paste, but can't swear to it. The surface of the chips before cooking was really smooth. I don't remember them having a distinctive taste - the fun of eating them was in the prep and watching the transformation.

Anybody know if these whatever-they-were are still around? Or have an opinion as to whether I've simply lost my mind?

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  1. Yup still around. My grandmother used to make them for me when I was a kid. They were also my second favorite part about ordering peking duck from our fav Chinese resto. They also may be called prawn crackers or prawn chips.

    1. My mother still uses these when she fries chicken -- to test if her oil is hot enough to start putting her chicken in to fry.

      1. They surround the fried chicken we get at our favorite Chinese restaurant. The chicken is not breaded. It has a very crispy skin and is served with a small dish of seasoned salt.

        1. Sure they are. You can even get bags already fried just like potato chips. They are probably shrimp **flavored** chips. You can get them from Asian grocery stores.

          2 Replies
          1. re: PeterL

            They are not the same as the long "shrimp-flavored chips." Different breed.

            1. re: tarino

              I can purchase Dandy brand of Shrimp Chips, they are the same (but cooked) as the chips the OP was interested in.

          2. They are a common staple in Chinese restos in Germany, aka kroepoek. Mind you, most of the Chinese restos in Germany are Cantonese, so it may be a regional thing.

            I was appalled to find that in the U.S., the equivalent seems to be pre-fried 'crispy noodles', which are practically tasteless.

            The plastic-like chips for home-frying can still be found in Asian stores throughout Germany. We made them at home once, too. Fun to watch them expand. And damn tasty.

            2 Replies
            1. re: linguafood

              lingua, shrimp chips are ubiquitous in Thai restos in North America. The non-multicoloured ones, in many different shapes, are a very popular Korean snack food.

              1. re: John Manzo

                Hmm. Haven't seen them in Thai restos around PA.... I don't even know the multi-colored ones. Just the fried-dough colored ones '-D

            2. The ones I am familiar with were made from tapioca, they were prepared as you described. They were called, "shrimp chips".

              They are available in the San Francisco Bay Area cooked/bagged. The brand is Dandy, they are or used to be in San Leandro., these chips come in one color only; sort of pink.

              1. Just got a couple of bags of the ready-fried ones as "local" snacks for visiting friends from Nashville (we live in LA now). Those and a bowl of wasabi peas were a big hit. Got all this stuff at the (Chinese) 99 Ranch store, but the chips themselves are made about fifteen miles from here.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Will Owen

                  There's even a couple of brands of wasabi-flavored shrimp chips -- soooo goood! They're hard to find, though.

                2. My Chinese wife makes these all the time. The kids just love watching them "explode" in the wok.

                  What makes hers particularly good, IMHO, is the peanut sauce she serves them with. It's mostly chunky peanut butter heated in a saucepan with a bit of water to thin it, but she also adds chili sauce for heat. The combination of creamy peanut butter, crunchy chips, and heat is fantastic.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: KevinB

                    KevinB - where do you find them? Are you by any chance anywhere near NYC?

                    1. re: Deenso

                      Sorry - Toronto. We can get them here in any of the many Chinese/Asian groceries (if you have any Filipino stores nearby, you might them there as well).

                      1. re: KevinB

                        Your wife's recipe sounds just like the way I was taught to make them.

                        Though most recently, I slipped them onto the menu of a group catfish fry. They went over big. And catfish fries are often not a place for "branchin' out".

                        Here's a wiki:

                      2. re: Deenso

                        Have you tried any of the H-Marts in Queens?

                    2. The unfried ones should be fairly widely available at Chinese grocery stores. An easy way of "frying" them is to nuke them in the microwave.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: jadec

                        Here in RI they are usually served with Poo Poo Platters...

                        1. re: jadec

                          jadec, how long and at what power do you usually cook them in the microwave? I have almost a full box of uncooked shrimp chips at home (purchased at a local Asian supermarket) but I rarely cook them. I don't have a deep-fat fryer and, although I love them, pan-frying them is a pain. I'd love to try nuking them but would like some guidance so I don't incinerate them right off the bat!

                          1. re: liannenc

                            break them up into smallish pieces (~1"x1") if they are the large ones. Arrange in circle on microwave turntable. 30-40 seconds on high. Maybe more or less depending on numbers and power of your microwave. I usually watch the first few batches to get a sense of timing.

                            1. re: jadec

                              Thanks so much jadec! I can't wait until I get home tonight to try this out... it'll be a nice surprise for my husband, who is Belgian and loves these (along with other Indonesian foods-- must be Belgium's proximity to the Netherlands)!

                              1. re: jadec

                                Hey, I do it the same way too! It's so much more convenient when you have a hankering for just a few chips.

                                The better chips I find in some Asian grocers boast of a certain percentage of prawn (or lobster), and contain egg as well. They do taste better in addition to being fun to make

                          2. These are kropek/prawn crackers/shrimp chips or any permutation thereof and are commonly consumed throughout Southeast Asia. My grandmother used to purchase these to entertain me when I was young. The magical technicolor pop and puff of the chips as they hit the hot oil stunned me. Cheaper brands might be tasteless, but they should have some flavor of prawn.

                            If you are looking for them in NYC, you can find them across Chinatown. Try Asia Market, Hong Kong Supermarket or Kalustyan's if you want to be sure to find them.

                            123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                            Asia Market
                            71 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                            Hong Kong Supermarket
                            157 Hester St, New York, NY 10013

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JungMann

                              Thanks to everybody for their responses and, in particular, for the very specific answer from JungMann, as to where to find these!

                            2. My mom used to make those too -- late 50's, early 60's. They were called something like "piff-o-puffs. The fun was more in watching those flat chip things swell up in the hot oil like an angry blowfish.

                              1. Oh yes, these are classic shrimp (or shrimp-flavored) chips. You can get them uncooked (yes, they resemble translucent poker chips) or already fried in big bags. You should be able to find them in an Asian grocery store of any significant size. They are definitely still made, I just had some last week at a big, noisy, all-hands fam dinner.

                                1. I like the ones from Indonesia more than the Chinese ones because of better shrimp flavor, but they're not in technicolor which doesn't bother me at all. If I recall correctly the brand is called Krupuk Udang Komodo, and they're sold in most Asian supermarkets. Besides frying them, you can also cook them oil-free in the microwave. A friend has told me that popping them in the microwave on High for about 40-45 seconds puffs them up. I've tried it, and it works. But the down side is that you can only cook 3-5 chips at a time.

                                  1. I think these are called prawn crackers in the UK. You can get them in grocery stores here.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: cathodetube

                                      I had a part time house cleaning job in college and I was starving. I checked out my employer's pantry and she had multi-colorerd shrimp chips. Wow, I like shrimp so I dug in. I couldn't figure out why they tasted so weird and bad. I didn't get very far into them before I realized that maybe they needed to be cooked first.

                                    2. I remember them well, they were called Piff-O-Puffs and came in a can with the traditional can key that you would twist around the top to remove the lid and leave an incredibly sharp edge. I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world who remembered these but your description was right on.