Jump to Recipe
Most foods are better on a stick, right? They’re just fun and less messy to eat. Sunset is late into the evening and with warmer weather (and no mosquitos yet!), there are more reasons to make some easy appetizers to enjoy out door after a tiring Monday. Are you with me?
These Vietnamese shrimp on sugarcane sticks are the perfect appetizers for these spontaneous occasions. They’re easy, elegant and oh so yummy.
What is Vietnamese shrimp on sugar cane sticks or Chao Tom in Vietnamese?
Shrimp on sugarcane stick is a popular appetizer item in any Vietnamese restaurant. Savory shrimp paste wrapped around a sugarcane stick, then quickly fried (grilled, or steamed) to finish. The sugarcane sticks functions as skewers and when serving, we also chew on it to release the refreshing freshness of sugarcane juice.
Traditionally, Vietnamese shrimps on sugarcane sticks are made by using a mortal pestle. I made this recipe with the help of a food processor to speed up the process. To make it a little chewy, pulse a few times until a coarse paste is formed. Also cornstarch acts as a thickening agent so when we fry, the paste stays together.
Shrimps on sugarcane sticks are usually served with fine vermicelli and a bunch of fresh herbs, drizzles of sweet and salty dipping sauce.
What can I substitute if sugarcane sticks are not available?
You can use lemongrass stalk; asparagus stems or even celery stalks would work in this recipe. If you are grilling, wooden skewers would also be okay.
You’ll love these amazing sticks because they’re easy to prepare, so savory and incredibly delicious. The shrimp paste is chewy and savory, while the sugarcane juice provides a delicate sweet taste.
These shrimps on sugarcane sticks are definitely making an appearance in my backyard party this summer.
Vietnamese Shrimp on Sugarcane Sticks (Chao Tom)
A popular Vietnamese appetizer recipe, these shrimps on sugarcane sticks are savory, sweet, chewy and incredibly delicious.
- 1 lb shrimp (shell removed and deveined)
- 1 tablespoon cornstach
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 sugarcane sticks (split them into 4 lenghthwise)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
Green onion oil:
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 oz fine vermicelli
- 2 cucumbers (sliced)
- handful of iceberg lettuce
Quick Fish Sauce:
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoons lime juice (juice of half a lime)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 thai chili
Wash shrimp and dry with paper towel to remove excess water.
Place shrimp in a large mixing bowl. Marinate with fish sauce, sugar, black pepper. Toss with cornstarch and set aside for a few minutes.
Place shrimp mixture with garlic clove in the food processor. Pulse a few times, then blend on low until a coarse paste forms. Transfer back to the mixing bowl.
Grease both hands well with some vegetable oil. Take about 2 tablespoon of paste, flatten out the paste and place it in the palm of hand. Place the sugarcane sticks in the middle of the paste. Then close your hand and wrap the shrimp around the stick. Turn the stick around while patting the paste to smooth out the surface. Continue until all finish.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium low heat, fry the shrimp sticks, turning frequently and fry until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Prepare the green onion oil: place everything in a small bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Set aside.
Dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, boiling water, sugar until dissolved. Add in lime juice, chili and garlic. Set aside.
Drizzle some green onion oil on top of the shrimp sticks. Serve with the sweet, spicy dipping sauce along with fresh herbs and fine vermicelli (if desired).
You can find sugarcane sticks in syrup (sold in cans) at any Asian store or Amazon. I used the Chaokoh brand.