Chao tom (sugarcane shrimp)


This is my favorite Vietnamese app. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make it here in Stockholm as the availability of sugarcane is not reliable as of yet. There is only one supermarket that carries fresh sugarcane and that’s Oriental supermarket but they don’t carry it regularly. I’d be quite happy to find it in the freezer section or even in a can, but unfortunately, no luck! Of course, one could always substitute lemongrass for the sugarcane but it’s just not the same. I love the taste of the shrimp with the extra sugar from the sugarcane and being able to suck on the cane afterwards when I’ve devoured my shrimp with gusto!


  • 1kg shrimp
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Step 1

Sprinkle the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix and then rinse thoroughly before draining. Dry the shrimp well with paper towel.

Step 2

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz until the mixture is a coarse paste. Allow the shrimp paste to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, prepare the sugarcane (lemongrass can be used if sugarcane isn't available). Peel the sugarcane and cut the sugarcane into quarters lengthwise.

Step 4

Remove the shrimp paste from the fridge. Fill a small bowl with warm water.

Step 5

Wet both hands in the water and place a handful of the shrimp paste in one palm.

Step 6

Spread the paste evenly into a 1cm thick layer. Place the sugarcane in the middle of the paste. Close the paste around the cane and pinch the ends shut, molding the paste into an oblong ball.

Step 7

Continue until the paste is used up.

Step 8

Microwave the shrimp at high power for 2-3 minutes or until cooked in the middle. Remove and allow to cool at room temperature.

Step 9

Grill, pan fry or deep fry the shrimp canes until golden.

Step 10

Serve with mint, pickled vegetables, fresh coriander, lettuce and nuoc mam cham* (dipping sauce).

*nuoc mam cham

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