This dish traditionally includes pork, but I have removed it for a better pure shrimp taste. Make sure the shrimps are pat dried, else, the finished texture is not as tone as it should be.
To taste the seasoning of the paste, shape a little of the prawn paste into a patty and run it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Test the texture and seasoning before cooking the rest of the mixture. This dish can be served by itself with some green salad, topping for the noodle bowl or can also be served as a great grilling meat for spring rolls.
Recipe for Chạo Tôm – Shrimp Paste Wrapped Around Sugarcane:
2 lb raw shrimp meat
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp five spice powder
3 clove garlic
10 scallions, white part only, chopped
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp fine white pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cornstarch
10 thick sugarcane skewers, about 3-4 inch long
Oil, for brushing
20 rice papers
1/2 green leaf lettuce
3 large handful of fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, Vietnamese coriander, cilantro
1/2 lb rice vermicelli, cooked, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp Fried Shallots
2 tbsp crushed Roasted Peanuts
2 tbsp scallion oil
Dipping fish sauce for serving
Pound the garlic and scallions in a mortar with the salt, pepper, and sugar. Transfer to a bowl and combine with all other shrimp paste ingredients.
Add small quantities of the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. Repeat this process with the remaining mixture.
Weigh the shrimp paste into 4 1/2 oz amounts (you should have ten in total). Using your hand, pick up each portion of the paste and throw it down hard onto your work surface several times. This aerates the paste and gives it a smooth, glossy appearance. Repeat this process with all the paste.
Roll each portion of the paste into a sausage shape and skewer with the sugarcane. Roll it back and forth until it is smooth and evenly distributed around the cane. Brush with some oil and place on a steaming tray over high heat for 10 mins. Before grilling, brush with some oil and grill until golden brown.
This dish is assembled at the table. Cut the Chạo Tôm into four strips and wrapped in rice paper with vermicelli noodles, lettuce, and fresh herbs. Dip it with the dipping fish sauce.
Chạo Tôm can be made well in advance – it will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer.
Makes 10 sugarcane shrimp paste sticks and 20 spring rolls.
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