Fried Shrimp with Shrimp Paste, Lemongrass, and Chili Paste

Tom Xào Mắm Ruoc Tỏi Ỏ́t

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine And Culture In Southern California's Little Saigon

Little Saigon Cookbook

By Ann Le

Published 2011

  • About

Fermented shrimp paste has long been popular to flavor soups and braise meats. We take fresh shrimp, add some shrimp paste, and get some of the best umami-tasting dishes. It’s like taking a bite out of the ocean. The briny taste of shrimp, coupled with the lemongrass and light touch of chili paste is something I crave at times. This perfectly balanced dish is accomplished by lightly frying the shrimp; only then are all the ingredients' flavors completely revealed.


  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemongrass
  • ½ teaspoon chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
  • ½ pound fresh medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails intact
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 4 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • tablespoons shrimp paste
  • Chopped fresh Chinese parsley or plain parsley


    1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemongrass, chili paste, fish sauce, black pepper, sugar, lime juice, and scallions until the sugar is dissolved.
    2. Add the shrimp to the bowl and toss so the marinade completely coats the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for at least a half hour.
    3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, fry the garlic for about 3 minutes until it is fragrant and golden to dark brown.
    4. Remove the shrimp from the marinade; reserve the marinade. Fry the shrimp in the hot oil with the garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, over high heat, turning the shrimp once. When the shrimp are done, they will have curled and turned pink in color.
    5. Discard half of the oil from the skillet and lower the heat to medium.
    6. Whisk the shrimp paste into the remaining marinade, and add the mixture to the shrimp in the skillet. Blend the marinade, the shrimp, and the oil, and serve immediately, garnished with parsley. Serve with generous amounts of steamed rice.