June 30, 2014

Chao Tom (Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp on Sugarcane) - AFF French IndoChina

I am kind of curious with this Vietnamese classic appetizer or party food.  It is seasoned shrimp paste (my family is a big fan of shrimp :D) wrapped around a stick of sugarcane, then steamed to firm the paste, shape and grilled to finish. The sugarcane act as a skewer to hold the shrimp paste while grilling and the sugarcane is not easily burnt while cooking. This appetizer is full of flavor between savory and sweet. After you have eat up the shrimp paste you can chew on the sugarcane to enjoy the sweet sugarcane juice.Want to know how does it taste...I have to prepare it and taste it, which i did :D
The old fashion way, they uses the mortat and pestle to pounded the shrimp chopped coasre pieces into paste but now the modern way we can use the food processor, In just a few blizt it is done. It is ready to mixed and shape on the sugarcane stick.
 It is really good!! My second (Sam), is like me so curious about the taste that he is following me around in the kitchen when i am preparing this. He can't wait to try when it is out of the oven.
The dipping sauce (nuoc cham)  is a must, it enhance the grilled shrimp even more  :D

Grilled Shrimps on Sugarcane (Chao Tom)
recipe adapted from vietworld kitchen.com
I make half of this recipe and i have 11 small sticks


230g (8 ounces) shrimp (i weight it after peeled and deveined)
1 tsp of corn starch
1 tsp palm sugar (crushed it finely before use)
1/4 tsp freshly grounded black pepper
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 large egg (about 30g)
1 clove garlic, minced and crushed into a paste
1 tablespoons minced shallot

1/2 tablespoon minced pork fatback or 1/2 tablespoon canola oil (i use canola oil)

11 stalks sugarcane (11 cm in lenght and 1 cm in diameter )

1 to 2  tablespoons canola oil
1 small head soft leaf lettuce, such as red leaf, green leaf, or butter leaf (i use romanian lettuce)
few sprigs cilantro
 few sprigs mint


1/2 cup

To Do:

1. Refresh the shrimp by putting them in a colander and tossing them with a liberal amount of salt. Rinse immediately under lots of cold water and drain well. Blot dry with paper towel.
2. Coarsely chop the shrimp, then put them in a bowl. Add a generous 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the cornstarch, sugar, pepper, fish sauce, egg, garlic, and shallot. Transfer to a food processor and process just until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the pork fatback, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes. The mixture will stiffen as it sits. (i use canola oil instead of pork fat)

Red sugar cane from my backyard
3. Meanwhile, cut 3 or 4 sections of sugarcane lengthwise into thin sticks, each between 1/4 and 1/2 inch in diameter. You need only 11 sugarcane sticks. Blot it dry with paper towel and set aside.

4. Greased a steaming plate with some cooking. Ready a pot of water for steaming.
Put the lettuce and herbs on a platter. Put the dipping sauce in a communal bowl. Set both at the table.

5. Have a bowl of water near where you’re working, along with the shrimp paste and sugarcane sticks. Wet one hand, then use the free hand to put 1 to 2 tablespoons of paste in the palm of your hand, spreading it out into circle about 1 and a 1/2 inches wide and a good 1/4 inch thick. Center a sugarcane stick on top of the paste (the ends of the stick will not be covered), then close your hand to make the paste adhere to the stick and surround it. Hold on to the sugarcane stick with your dry hand and turn the stick, all the while patting the paste with the wet hand to smooth out the surface. Set on the prepared steamer tray. Repeat to make more. Put overflow sticks on a plate.

Wet your hands with some water so the shrimp paste mixture will not stick to your hands. Add about 1 tbsp of shrimp paste onto your palm and spread it out. The shrimp paste mixture is soft and sticky so it is a little bit hard to handle.

Put the sugar cane on top of the shrimp paste.

Wrapped the shrimp paste around the sugarcane.

I have 11 mini size shrimp on sugarcane

After steaming it is firm and it is so much easier to handle.

6. Steam the shrimp sticks over boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, until opaque, slightly puffed, and just cooked through. (if yours are bigger size then you need to steam for 3-4 minutes) Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool. The shrimp sticks can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days; return them to room temperature for grilling.
7. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Meanwhile, rub some oil over each of the shrimp portion of each stick; this prevents sticking. Grill the shrimp sticks for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until the paste is sizzling and there’s some nice browning. Transfer to a serving plate and present with the lettuce, herbs, and dipping sauce.
To eat, cut each shrimp stick vertically in 3 places. The 4 narrow pieces of shrimp paste will be easy to remove. Wrap each in a small piece of lettuce with herbs and dip in the sauce. Chew on the sugarcane stick for some sweet juice.
** Nouc cham (Vietnamese basic dipping sauce)
recipe adapted: vietworldkitchen.com 
Makes ¾ cup
3 tablespoons lime juice (1 fat, thin skin lime)

2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce

Optional additions:

1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 or 2 Thai chilis, thinly sliced


To Do:
  • Mixed lime juice and sugar to dissolve.
  • Add in water, fish sauce and mixed well.
  • Add in slice Thai chillis.
  • Adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy.

I am submitting this post to  Asian Food Fest – IndoChina hosted by Kelly Siew Cooks.”



  1. 这个我很爱,看着美图流着口水很痛苦。。哈

  2. Hi Mui Mui, wow... this Chao tom is a very nice and appetizing snack. Yours look so delicious. Well done, 2 thumbs up for you.

    Have a nice day.

  3. I bet these are so tasty delicious. Who can resist such a meal. Yummm...
    Blessings, Kristy

  4. Mui,这看起来很可口,做法也好象不会太难

  5. mui mui, this is so yum! yum! Best part is after eating the prawns can nom nom the sugarcane hee..hee...

  6. hi doreen, i ve made these too from the same recipe. It is good!


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