Recipes Wine & Dine

Recipe: Vietnamese prawn sugarcane skewers

A delicious mouthful of prawns, garlic and herbs 

Here, sugarcane stalks serve as a great presentation skewer for the prawn paste as well as lending a sweet finish to the dish. The delicate flavours of Vietnamese chao tom are a delicious mouthful – prawns, garlic and herbs, all wrapped up in fresh lettuce leaves and dipped in a sweet, salty, sour and spicy sauce.

Serve: 4 to 6


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 500g medium-sized raw shrimps, peeled, deveined and patted dry
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 4 pieces of long sugarcane or 1 can of sugarcane


  • 1 small head butter lettuce
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 bunch mint

Nuoc cham dipping sauce:

  • Mix 3 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 slightly crushed clove of garlic (remove before serving) and 1 red birdseye chilli.


  1. Put shallots, raw shrimp, egg, fish sauce, salt, sugar, garlic, pepper, cornstarch and baking powder into a food processor.
  2. Process until it becomes an almost smooth paste.
  3. Refrigerate for half an hour or more until the paste is firm and cold.
  4. Quarter the sugarcane pieces lengthwise.
  5. Wet hands with cold water. Mould 2 tablespoons of shrimp paste around each stick of sugarcane, carefully sealing the edges around the stick.
  6. Place the sugarcane sticks in a single layer in a steamer basket lined with oiled parchment paper.
  7. Steam until the shrimp paste turns pink, around 3 minutes.
  8. Before serving, grill the shrimp sticks until the paste is hot inside and slightly charred around the edges.
  9. Serve immediately. Remove the prawn paste from the sugarcane, cut into segments, wrap each one in a small piece of lettuce with herbs and dip into the sauce. The sugarcane sticks can also be chewed on for a sweet finish.