The genius of Vietnamese food is how it packs in so much taste while still retaining feather-light freshness. Blitz these prawn cakes in the food processor, grill with a brushing of palm sugar glaze and eat wrapped up in cold, crisp lettuce leaves with a sticky peanut chilli sauce for dipping.
In a small frying pan, mix the palm or brown sugar with
To make the peanut chilli sauce, boil the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes until syrupy. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Add the chilli, peanuts, shallot, fish sauce and coriander.
To make the prawn cakes, place the ginger, coriander, shallot and chilli in a food processor and blend until fine. Add the prawns, lime zest and fish sauce and pulse until combined, being sure not to blend too fine as the texture should be nice and chunky. Grind plenty of black pepper over it.
Using oiled hands, form the prawn mixture into 16 flat cakes. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Preheat the grill. Brush both sides of the prawn cakes with a tiny bit of oil and put on a rack placed on top of a baking tray.
Grill the cakes for 1 minute, then brush the tops with the palm sugar syrup. Cook for another 2–3 minutes or until opaque. You won’t need to turn them as they cook fast. Serve the warm cakes with the chilled lettuce leaves and peanut chilli sauce.
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