Vietnamese Sugar Cane Shrimp (Chao Tom)

Vietnamese cuisine seafood salad and soup icon served with crispy lamb, chicken soup with shiitake mushrooms, beef noodles, mango salad, spinach salad with shrimps, eggplant stew, nuoc leo peanut dipping sauce

The iconic Vietnamese dish of Chao Tom or sugar cane shrimp is simply richly flavoured shrimp paste wrapped around a piece of sugar cane. It combines the savoury umami flavours of seafood with the sweetness of sugar cane.


  • 1½ lbs/45 g raw shrimp
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 3-4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg white, lightly whipped to a foam
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper or equivalent in chopped chili
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil – sunflower oil, maize oil
  • sugar cane, peeled and quartered into 8cm lengths
  • pinch of salt


  1. Clean the shrimp under running cold water, remove the veins and dry the shrimp thoroughly between paper towels. .
  2. Put the shrimp, white pepper, garlic, vegetable oil in a food processor. Blitz to make a smooth paste.
  3. Put the shrimp paste in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Lightly whip the egg white with an electronic hand beater until foaming.
  5. Combine the shrimp paste with beaten egg white and mix well with a spoon or hand-held stirrer.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and then divide the shrimp paste into 4 or 5 equal portions.
  7. With oiled hands using some vegetable oil, wrap the shrimp paste around the sugar cane. Shape into a round block but leave between 1½ to 2 inches of the sugar cane exposed.
  8. To a wok of hot vegetable oil, add the sugar cane shrimps and deep fry until golden brown. Serve immediately.
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