Bánh Tôm Hồ Tây – Fried shrimp cakes

These cakes combine shrimp with sweet potatoes and are an traditional speciality of Hanoi, mostly around the West lake area (Hồ Tây) towards the north of the city.

People enjoy these cakes during an early evening stroll along the lakefront, when they will take a break at one of the roadside food stalls and nibble on these crunchy cakes, served, of course, with fish sauce and a herb plate, in full view of the lake.
Add a cold beer and it’s a perfect start to the evening.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 small sweet potato (around 150g)

INGREDIENTS FOR THE DOUGH:
50g wheat flour
100g rice flour
50g tempura flour (Asia-Market)
1/2tsp salt
1 pinch of pepper
2 tsp curcuma powder (Asia-Market)
3 egg yolks


18 medium whole shrimp
400ml oil for frying
1 lettuce
1 herb plate including lettuce, cilantroand perilla
200ml mixed dipping sauce nuoc mam pha with papaya and carrot

METHOD

Peel the sweet potato and cut into julienne. Keep the julienne strips in cold water while you mix the ingredients for the dough.

Gradually add 200ml water until the dough reaches the consistency of crème fraîche or a pancake dough. If there are lumps, push it through a fine sieve. Drain the sweet potato julienne and mix in with the dough. Let dough rest until it thickens somewhat.

Remove all shells and 6 heads from the shrimp. Wash all thoroughly under cold running water. Using a sharp knife, cut carefully along the outside of the shrimp without actually cutting through the meat, just deep enough to devein it. Then use a broad knife and gently press the shrimp apart (cf. photo). This is called “butterfly”. Chop the headless shrimp finely and mix into the dough.

Clean and wash the lettuce leaves. Wash the herbs and dry on kitchen paper. Use scissors to cut the perilla leaves in fine strips. Pull the cilantro apart, remove leaves from the remaining herbs, discard the stems, cut into bite-size pieces, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 250° F.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a suitable pot until it reaches 360°. Dip a wooden chop stick into the oil. If it throws bubbles the oil has reached the correct temperature.

Dip a flat scoop into the hot oil for 10 seconds.

Remove the scoop, pour off the oil, pour 2 or 3 tbsp of dough – depending on the size of the scoop – and sweet potato julienne into the scoop. Use two chopsticks to arrange the julienne parallel to each other in the scoop.

Now place a shrimp with the head upward unto the julienne.

Dip the scoop carefully into the hot oil. Wait a few seconds for the shrimp cake to come loose from the scoop and swim in the oil by itself.

Remove it after 3 minutes with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Keep cakes warm in the oven.

To serve, fill rice bowls with some lettuce and herbs, add shrimp cakes and pour dipping sauce on top. How to eat? Just take turns at the cake, the lettuce, and the herbs.

Alternative:

You can also prepare the cakes beforehand, drain them on kitchen paper und refry them again before serving by dipping them briefly into hot oil. This makes the preparation easier and less hectic.

 

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