Welcome to week 5 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday. This week, we explore The Northern Mariana Islands, the newest US territory. Like many other islands in this region, the indigenous people are Chamorro. Magellan first discovered the islands in 1521, and at that time the population of the native people was more than 75,000. With the introduction of disease and forced labor by the Spaniards, the population had diminished to a mere 3,500 by 1710.
Spain sold the islands to Germany in 1899, during the same period that Guam became a US territory. Germany did little with the islands, and when they were defeated in WWII, Japan assumed possession along with most of Micronesia in 1944. In 1947, the area was recognized as a United Nations Trust Territory, administered by the United States. The infusion of ‘Yankee’ culture introduced the islands to better education and tourism. But it was not until 1978, after years of debates and ballot propositions that the Northern Marianas entered into a commonwealth with the United States. Though still under foreign control, the new Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands introduced an autonomy that had been missing from Chamorro culture for over four hundred years.
When I went looking for a recipe to make this week, I wanted to give the native culture a nod. Because the island culture was very similar to Guam, it became a challenge to find something different and unique. But I did finally find something that was attributed to Saipan (the capital), called Chamorro Shrimp Patties. These are essentially a fritter, and they were really delicious. They are very easy to make, and I was surprised that something with very basic seasonings was so tasty. On the islands, they are frequently served as an appetizer, but I found that they were filling enough to be my main dish. The shrimp was forward enough to be the star ingredient, and the use of frozen mixed vegetables was in line with the regions lack of local produce availability.
Overall, I give this dish a solid A. I would make these again, maybe for a party where I didn’t mind tending the deep fryer for awhile!
Thanks for stopping by! This wraps up our tour of the populated US Territories. I am going to wrap up this tour with our nation’s capital, Washington DC. Seems pretty fitting, since next Tuesday is Election Day! See you next week!
Chamorro Shrimp Patties
A traditional shrimp fritter found at festive gatherings in the Mariana Islands
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 lb. raw shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, completely thawed, and drained
- About 4 cups vegetable oil, for deep frying
Important! Make sure that the shrimp and mixed vegetables are completely thawed out; otherwise as it defrosts, it will water down your batter.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the evaporated milk. Add the flour, baking powder, and the seasonings. Mix until smooth. Add a little more evaporated milk if needed to make a thick but smooth batter.
- Add the shrimp and mixed vegetables, combining well.
- Heat oil in a deep fryer or 12-inch skillet to medium heat (350°F). Using two spoons, scoop and drop about 2 tablespoons batter and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the fritters with tongs to brown evenly
- Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.