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Shrimp Paste on Sugarcane

The ingredients for shrimp paste are whirred in a food processor and then shaped around stalks of sugarcane in this updated version of a traditional Vietnamese appetizer.

  • Servings: 8

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2006


  • 1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 fresh red Thai chile, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for working
  • 4 fresh sugarcane stalks, skin removed, flesh cut into 4-inch-long sticks, then quartered lengthwise
  • Green Papaya Salad (optional)
  • Lime-Chile Dipping Sauce (optional)


  1. Process shrimp, cilantro, garlic, chile, lime juice, fish sauce, egg white, and pepper in a food processor until a thick paste has formed. Transfer to a medium bowl. Chill in freezer 30 minutes.

  2. With lightly oiled hands, shape 1 1/2 tablespoons shrimp paste into a ball; press ball onto center of a sugarcane stick, enclosing sugarcane but leaving ends exposed. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining sugarcane sticks and shrimp paste. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

  3. Brush a bamboo or metal steamer basket with oil; place over boiling water in a wide saucepan or wok. Lay 8 sugarcane sticks in basket. Cover, and steam until shrimp paste just turns opaque, 5 to 6 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Transfer to a plate; let cool slightly. Repeat with remaining 8 sugarcane sticks.

  4. Preheat broiler; heat a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet until hot. Lay sugarcane sticks on preheated sheet. Broil until golden brown, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, preheat a grill or grill pan until hot but not smoking; brush shrimp paste and sugarcane with oil, and grill, flipping once, until golden brown, about 1 minute per side.) Serve with papaya salad and lime-chile sauce if desired.

Cook's Notes

If you can't find fresh sugarcane, use the canned variety.

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