This dish is eaten by breaking some of the grilled tender shrimp “mousse” from around the sugarcane stalks, bundling it in a lettuce leaf with a rice noodle sheet, herbs, and cucumber, and then dunking it into a lime dipping sauce. It originated in Huế, central Vietnam. A small amount of pork fat enriches the shrimp paste. Finely ground roasted rice powder (sidebar pg. 244) (thính) helps create the paste’s unique texture. The paste is applied to sticks of sugarcane, steamed to firm it, and then grilled to concentrate its flavor and impart a smoky nuance.
Another serving option is to place these grilled skewers atop rice noodles with some shredded lettuce and a bowl of the lime dipping sauce. No sugarcane around? No worries. Just omit the sugarcane and make small patties instead.
© 2008 Robert Danhi. All rights reserved.