Of the many cuisines I encountered around the world, this is one of the rare recipes that I enjoy making as much as I enjoy eating. It is a fun process and a very interactive dish. The end product is a fresh spring roll with shrimp. It takes a bit of work – about an hour – but it is totally worth it! The real recipe calls for pork fat, but since we don’t eat meat we used an egg instead.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce: Nuoc Cham
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Thai chilies (3 if you like it spicy!), minced
You will also need:
1 lemon or lime squeezer
1 ramekin or small serving dish
- Begin by cutting the lime in half and squeezing all the juice into a small ramekin.
- Add the sugar and water to the juice and stir to dissolve the granules.
- Add the fish sauce, garlic and chilies to spice up the mixture.
Vietnamese sugarcane shrimp (Chao Tom) spring roll, serves 4
Ingredients (for paste):
1 foot-long stick of sugarcane
1 ½ pounds raw peeled shrimp
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ large yellow onion, quartered
3 shallots, halved
3 garlic cloves, quartered
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
Ingredients (for rolls):
1 package of rice paper
1 bunch of scallions, diced
1 bunch of cilantro, diced
1 bunch of mint, diced
1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded
You will also need:
1 food processor
1 machete or meat cleaver
1 steamer basket
1 pot (large enough to accommodate your steamer basket)
1 large pan
1 sheet of parchment paper
1 pair of kitchen scissors
- Rinse the peeled shrimp (always wash any seafood before cooking) in a colander and shake off extra water.
- Put shrimp into food processor and pulverize.
- Add salt, cornstarch, sugar, pepper, fish sauce, egg, garlic, onion, and shallots, and blend the mixture into a puree.
- When the paste reaches a homogenous blend, spoon out into a bowl and refrigerate for 15-25 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400°F
- Take the sugarcane and machete and split off sticks that are 6″ long and a half inch wide.
- After the shrimp paste has firmed a bit, take it out of the fridge and wrap 3-4 tablespoons of the paste around the middle of each of your sugarcane sticks.
- Fill a pot half-full of water, place the steamer basket inside, and cover it with parchment paper so the paste doesn’t stick to the steamer basket.
- Steam the shrimp paste-covered sugarcane sticks for 5 minutes or until they change from grey to pink and are no longer sticky.
- Place steamed sugarcane sticks on a large cookie sheet, and stick it into the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. They are ready when they start to turn a golden brown. Take them out and let cool.
- Dip both sides of the rice paper into a plate of shallow water and then lay it on a flat surface.
- Using your kitchen scissors, cut off chunks of the cooked paste onto your rice paper.
- Add diced scallion, cilantro, mint and lettuce. Then roll it up and eat using the dipping sauce.