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Vietnamese Sweet Potato and Shrimp Fritters

By Andrew Zimmern

Knives used in this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, washed and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1/2 pound fresh shrimp, head and shell intact
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut in 2-inch lengths
  • 1/4 cup small dried shrimp
  • 1 small hot chile, minced
  • Butter lettuce leaves, for serving
  • Shiso, Thai basil and mint leaves, for serving

Nuoc cham (dipping sauce), for serving

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce, or more to taste
  • Juice of 2 limes, or to taste
  • 1 fresh red chile, minced (use a hot one!)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted and ground
  • 3 tablespoons scallions, minced

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small pan, cool. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, chiles, ground sesame seeds and scallions. Reserve.

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat until it is steady at 350 degrees.

  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into thick matchsticks, about 2-3 inches long and 1/8 inch thick. Place the cut potatoes into a large bowl filled with iced water and refrigerate for an hour or more…drain well and pat dry before using.

  3. Combine the flour, cornstarch, turmeric and white pepper. Season with salt. Slowly add ice water, whisking, to form a smooth batter.

  4. Cut the head off of the shrimp, place in a large mixing bowl. Peel and devein the body of the shrimp, and chop into ½-inch pieces. Place in the mixing bowl. Add cut sweet potatoes, scallions, dried shrimp and hot chile. Pour in the batter and toss well.

  5. Spoon the portion into the oil and cook until golden and crispy, about 4 minutes or so. I always have 2 or 3 going at once.

  6. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining portions until you’re finished frying.

  7. When ready to serve, place the herbs and fritters on a large serving platter. Wrap the fritter and a few herbs in the lettuce and dip it into nuoc cham.