Shrimp Paste

Use for SugarCane Shrimp

141
Shrimp Paste

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  • Prep Time

    minutes

  • Total Time

    minutes

  • Servings

    servings


Ingredients

  • Shrimp paste:

  • 1

    pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (13 ounces net weight)

  • Salt

  • 2

    teaspoons cornstarch

  • 2

    teaspoons packed palm sugar or light brown sugar

  • Generous ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground preferred

  • 2

    teaspoons fish sauce

  • 1

    large egg, lightly beaten

  • 2

    cloves garlic, minced and crushed into a paste

  • 2

    tablespoons minced shallot

  • 1

    tablespoon minced pork fatback or 1tablespoon canola oil

  • 1

    (20-ounce) can sugarcane, or 3 fat lemongrass stalks

  • 1 to 2

    tablespoons canola oil

  • 1

    small head soft leaf lettuce, such as red leaf, green leaf, or butter leaf

  • 8 to 12

    sprigs cilantro

  • 8 to 12

    sprigs mint

  • 8 to 12

    sprigs of other fresh herbs, such as red perilla (tia to) and Vietnamese balm (kinh gioi) (see Vietnamese herb primer for details)

  • ¾

    cup Nuoc Cham dipping sauce

Directions

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. 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 12 sugarcane sticks and will not use all the sugarcane in the can. Save the extras for another use; reserve some of the syrup for making the dipping sauce, if you like. (If using lemongrass, cut off 5 inch sections from the bottom, then quarter each one lengthwise. If using fennel fronds, cut off 5 inch sections about 1/3 inch in diameter; you may have to halve bigger pieces lengthwise.) Regardless of the type of stick that you’re using, blot it dry with paper towel and set aside. 4. Line a steamer tray with parchment paper and oil the parchment. 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 2 tablespoons of paste in the palm of your hand, spreading it out into circle about 2 1/2 inches wide and a good 1/4 inch thick. Center a sugarcane stick atop 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 11 more. Put overflow sticks on a plate. 6. Steam the shrimp sticks over boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, until opaque, slightly puffed, and just cooked through. 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. Note: You can set out rice paper and a bowl for soaking the rice paper. Have people construct rice paper rolls. Small corn-tortilla size rice paper work well for the little pieces of shrimp; or, break a larger, 8-inch-wide rice paper in half. You can also just put more of the shrimp into the rice paper for a big roll. Or, you can add some round rice noodles, bun, to the garnishes and wrap it up with the shrimp and herbs.


Nutrition

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