This dish, know as Chao Tom in Vietnam is a classic. Originally created by the ingenious cooks of the Imperial Kitchens in Hue, it has become a national treasure. To appreciate its full impact, it is better to simply grill it and eat it by itself, enjoying every single bite, right down to the sweet, smoky flavors of the sugar cane. Although canned or frozen sugar cane can be used, it is no substitute for fresh. This dish is usually served with the traditional accompaniments of salad, rice wrappers and a dipping sauce. The frilled shrimp paste is pulled off the sugar cane, wrapped in a rice paper and dipped in sauce. The stripped sugar cane can then be chewed.
2 oz pork fat
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp raw cane or dark brown sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
12 oz raw shrimp - peeled and deveined - wipe really dry with kitchen towel
Salt and black pepper
A piece of fresh/frozen sugar cane, 8 inches long
Place the pork fat in a large pan of boiling water and boil for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain well and chopped using a sharp knife. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan and stir in the onion and garlic. Just as they begin to color, remove from the heat and transfer them to a bowl. Beat in the egg, fish sauce and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper, and stir in the cornflour.
Add the pork fat and shrimps to the mixture, and mix well. Process to a slightly lumpy past in a food processor.
Divide the paste into eight portions.
Using a strong knife or cleaver, cut the sugar cane in half and then cut each half into quarters lengthways.
Put a piece of cling wrap on the tabletop, then place a portion of shrimp paste. Top another piece of cling wrap and press the shrimp paste into a thin rectangle. Remove the top cling wrap and put a piece of sugar cane on one end and wrap the shrimp paste over the sugar cane, continue to roll until the end of paste and press tightly so that shrimp paste adheres to sugar cane. Remove the cling wrap and place on a greased plate and repeat the rest of the shrimp paste and sugar cane.
For best flavor, grill the shrimp paste skewers over a barbecue for 5 - 6 minutes, turning them frequently until they are nicely browned all over. Alternatively, cook the skewers under a conventional grill(broiler). Another alternative, is to deep fry them.
Serve immediately while still hot.