Barbecued Shrimp Paste on Sugar Cane (Chao Tom)

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Title: Barbecued Shrimp Paste on Sugar Cane (Chao Tom)
Yield: 1 Servings
Categories: Vietnamese, Condiment


1 tb Roasted rice powder
Scallion oil
Crisp-fried shallots
1 tb Roasted peanuts, ground
1 lb Raw shrimp in the shell
1 tb Salt
6 Garlic cloves, crushed
6 Shallots, crushed
2 Ounces rock sugar, crushed
-to a powder, or
1 tb Granulated sugar
4 Ounces pork fat
4 ts Nuoc mam
Freshly ground black pepper
Peanut Sauce
Vegetable Platter
8 Ounces 6 1/2-inch rice
-paper rounds (banh trang)
12 Piece fresh sugar cane, or
12 oz Sugar cane packed in light
-syrup, drained
12 8-1/2 ea inch bamboo skewers
-soaked in water for 30
Vegetable oil, for shaping
-shrimp paste
8 Ounces extra-thin rice

The allied recipes for this rather complex operation follow in the
next post. Although this dish can be baked in an oven, I strongly
suggest you grill it over charcoal, for the result is far superior.
The dish may be prepared over 2 consecutive days. On day one,
prepare the dipping sauce and condiments. The Vegetable Platter and
shrimp paste can be assembled the following day. Fresh sugar cane may
be obtained at Caribbean markets; canned sugar cane is available at
Asian grocery stores. Prepare the roasted rice powder, scallion oil,
crisp-fried shallots and roasted peanuts. Set aside. Shell and devein
the shrimp. Sprinkle the salt over the shrimp and let stand for 20
minutes. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly with cold water. Drain and
squeeze between your hands to remove excess water. Dry thoroughly
with paper towels. Coarsely chop the shrimp. Boil the pork fat for
10 minutes. Drain and finely dice. In a food processor, combine the
shrimp, garlic, shallots and sugar. Process until the shrimp paste
pulls away from the sides of the container, stopping as necessary to
scrape down the sides. The paste should be very fine and sticky. Add
the pork fat, roasted rice powder, fish sauce and black pepper to
taste to the processor. Pulse briefly, only enough to blend all of
the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate. Meanwhile, prepare the Peanut
Sauce and Vegetable Platter. Cover the rice papers with a damp towel
and a sheet of plastic wrap; keep at room temperature until needed.
Peel the fresh sugar cane; cut crosswise into 4-inch sections. Split
each section lengthwise into quarters. (if using canned sugar cane,
split each section lengthwise in half only, then thread 2 pieces
lengthwise onto a skewer.) Pour about 1/4 cup of oil into a small
bowl. Oil your fingers. Pick up and mold about 2 tablespoons of the
shrimp paste around and halfway down a piece of fresh sugar cane.
Leave about 1 1/2 inches of the sugar cane exposed to serve as a
handle. (If using canned sugar cane, there is no need to leave a
handle. The skewers will serve as handles.) Press firmly so that the
paste adheres to the cane. Proceed until you have used all the shrimp
paste. Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat the oven to broil.
Meanwhile, steam the noodles, then garnish with the scallion oil,
crisp-fried shallots and ground roasted peanuts. Keep warm. Pour the
peanut sauce into individual bowls and place the Vegetable Platter
and rice papers on the table. Grill the shrimp paste on the sugar
cane over medium coals, turning frequently. Or Broil, on a baking
sheet lined with foil, under the broiler, about 6 inches from the
heat, for 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Transfer to a
warm platter. To serve, each diner dips a rice paper round in a bowl
of warm water to make it pliable, then places the paper on a dinner
plate. Different ingredients from the Vegetable Platter, some
noodles and a piece of the shrimp paste, which has been removed from
the sugar cane, are added. The rice paper is then roiled up to form
a neat package. The roll is dipped in the Peanut Sauce and eaten out
of hand. The remaining sugar cane may be chewed. Note: If both types
of sugar cane are unavailable, use skewers. Shape the shrimp paste
into meatballs and thread 3 or 4 on each skewer. Yield: 4 to 6
servings. From "The Foods of Vietnam" by Nicole Rauthier. Stewart,
Tabori & Chang. 1989. Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; May 24 1993.