© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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Recipe from: The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam, Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman, Barron's, 1979
Bach started using a mortar and pestle when she was thirteen years old, working with a pestle that was about a yard long and 5 inches in diameter. Although her family hand many servants, her mother, a great cook, wanted Bach to learn to use this tool properly. And Bach, who loved to cook as much then as she does now, was a willing and eager student. In Vietnam, where this is a very important dish, both the sugar cane and shrimp, fresh from the sea, are brought to the door by the country people. If you cannot obtain sugar cane, you can prepare this dish with crab claws instead. In the West, we have been making this in the oven. Originally it was barbecued over charcoal, and if you with you can do the same. Just cook it for 10 minutes on each side and this attractive dish will be reproduced exactly as it is in Vietnam.
1 pound raw shrimp in shell
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon rock sugar, pounded to a powder, or 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 egg whites, beaten until slightly frothy
1 tablespoon roasted rice powder
sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon pork fat, boiled for 10 minutes and diced very small
1 twelve-inch section sugar cane
¼ cup vegetable oil, approximately
Basic Vegetable Platter (see below)
12 dried rice papers (banh trang)
Nước Lèo with Tamarind
Shell and devein the shrimp, them rinse. Dry thoroughly in paper towels, blotting many times. Mash the garlic in a mortar, then add the shrimp, a few at a time and mash to a paste. If the mortar is not large enough, it will be necessary to remove the already prepared shrimp paste to make room for the additional shrimp to be pounded.
After all the shrimp is reduced to a smooth paste, pound the sugar into the shrimp, then add the egg white and pound with the pestle until well blended. Finally add the roasted rice powder, black pepper, and pork fat, combining all the ingredients.
Peel the sugar cane. Cut into 4-inch lengths and then split lengthwise into quarters. Pour about ¼ cup of oil into a bowl. Dip your fingers into the oil and pick up about 2 tablespoons of shrimp paste. Mold it into an oval, around and halfway down the sugar cane, leaving half of the sugar cane exposed to serve as a handle. Proceed until you have used up all the shrimp paste.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the shrimp on sugar cane on a baking sheet, then bake for 30 minutes or until brown. Serve with the vegetable platter, dried rice papers, and nước lèo with tamarind, as follows: Each person is given a dried rice paper, and, dipping his finger in water, he moistens the entire surface of the paper, which soon becomes soft and flexible. He then helps himself, from the vegetable platter, to some lettuce, cucumber, coriander, and mint, if available. Then he takes a sugar cane stick, removes the shrimp patty, breaks it in half lengthwise, and places it on top of the vegetables, all in a cylinder, at one end of the rice paper. Then he folds over each side to enclose the filling and rolls it up. Holding it in his hand, he then dips it in his own small bowl of sauce. While you eat the shrimp in rice paper, you can also chew on the sugar cane.