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Shrimp on sugar cane (chao tom)

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Categories: Vietnamese, Seafood, Ceideburg 2



NUOC LEO WITH TAMARIND The "tuong" referred to below is a Vietnamese soybean preparation++a kind of thin, salty paste. If you can't find it, you *might* get away with substituting Chinese bean sauce, mashed and thinned a bit with water, or possibly a dark Japanese miso. Although you can make this in a food processor or blender, it's best to pound it in a mortar with a pestle to achieve that certain crunchiness which is a most desirable quality of much Vietnamese food. 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. 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 1/4 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 350F. 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 nuoc leo 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. Makes 6 servings. NUOC LEO WITH TAMARIND: Soak the tamarind paste in the 3 tablespoons water. Heat the oil and add the chopped garlic; cook briefly. Add the water from the tamarind to the saucepan, discarding the remaining tamarind paste and seeds. Stir and add the tuong, 1/2 cup water, sugar, peanut butter. Mix well and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Sprinkle the nuts on top of the sauce and pour into individual bowls for serving. ROASTED RICE (THINH): Roasted rice is used quite frequently in Vietnamese cooking. We generally prepare a quantity of it and keep it in a jar to have on hand when needed. 1 cup rice Heat a small, dry frying pan over high heat and add the rice. Toast, stirring constantly, until rice is brown. Transfer to a blender and grind into a powder. Store as suggested above. From "The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam", Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman, Barron's, 1979. Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; May 24 1993.