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