Because of our, euphemistically put, shared history, kroepoek (Indonesian shrimp crackers, the Indonesian spelling is kerupuk or krupuk) is very common and very popular in the Netherlands. You can buy it at every supermarket and ‘Chinese/Indonesian’ restaurants sell large rectangular sheets of kroepoek with their take-out food. Many of my countrymen are probably not even aware that they contain shrimp and I’m sure the vast majority does not have a clue how kroepoek is made.
To make krupuk, you start with a paste of shrimp, salt, garlic, and optional other flavoring. With this paste you make a dough using tapioca flour. The dough is then steamed until it is cooked through, then sliced thinly and subsequently dried. Traditionally this step is performed in the Indonesian sun, but an oven or dehydrator works just fine as well. Finally the dried pieces are deep-fried so they will expand and crisp up. You can see on the photo that they expand quite a bit and curl up a little.
It is a bit of work, but the result is great. This homemade kroepoek has much greater depth of flavor than the store-bought stuff, probably because I’ve used twice the amount of shrimp (there is only 18% in the commercial version compared to about 36% in mine). Instead of using MSG (E621) I’ve used fish sauce, which is its natural counterpart. It takes some skill to get them as crispy as the store-bought stuff, as you have to slice very thinly and cook at just the right temperature. I’ve looked at some online recipes to figure out the recipe, with this blog post as the most helpful.
The dried slices can be stored in an airtight container for a pretty long time, so you can make a large batch on a rainy day and then deep fry them to have fresh shrimp crackers in a couple of minutes whenever you want.
200 grams (7 oz) shelled and deveined shrimp
about 200 grams (7 oz) tapioca flour/tapioca starch
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 litres (2 quarts) vegetable oil
…to obtain a paste. You may need a bit of water to get things going, which you will need to compensate later on by adding more tapioca flour. If you are a traditionalist, feel free to make the paste with pestle and mortar 😉
Switch over to the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth, 5-10 minutes. You may need to add a bit more tapioca flour. The dough needs to gather around the hook and obtain a consistency similar to that of fresh pasta dough.
If you love lamb but you don’t like red wine as much, then preparing lamb with a lemon-egg sauce is a great idea as this dish pairs wonderfully with white wine.