1 large dried tree ear mushroom, or 2 dried shiitake mushroom caps
1 pound medium shrimp
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce, (nuoc mam)
¼ tsp Asian sesame oil
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
10 spring roll wrappers, or 40 wonton wrappers
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
In a small bowl, cover the dried mushroom with hot water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop the mushroom. Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving 20 with their tails. Coarsely chop the remaining shrimp.
In a food processor, finely chop the carrot. Add the onion and mushroom and finely chop. Add the chopped shrimp, fish sauce, oil, salt and pepper; process just until blended. If using spring roll wrappers, cut them in half diagonally to form 2 triangles. Lay 2 of the triangles on a work surface with the long side facing down; keep the remaining wrappers covered with a damp towel. Place a whole shrimp in the center of each wrapper with the tail sticking up beyond the tip of the triangle. Spread 1 scant tablespoon of the chopped filling over each shrimp and brush the edges of the wrappers with a little beaten egg. Fold the longest side of each wrapper up and over the shrimp, wrapping the ends tightly around it. If using wonton wrappers, lay one on a work surface and brush the edges with egg. Set a shrimp in the center, with the tail sticking out of the wrapper. Spread with 1 tablespoon of the filling and cover with another wrapper. Repeat with the remaining wrappers, shrimp and filling.
In a heavy saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to 350ºF over moderately high heat. Fry 3 or 4 dumplings at a time, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. If necessary, lower the heat so that the oil won’t smoke. Drain the dumplings briefly on paper towels, then transfer to a platter and keep warm. Recipe makes 20 dumplings.